HIGH POINT, N.C. -- Guilford County Commissioner Bruce Davis says there are 1,600 unemployed veterans in the Triad. More than 500 are homeless, and Davis working to change those numbers.
He wants to transform the Evergreens nursing home facility in High Point into a full-service Veterans Center.
Davis said Guilford County owns the facility, which has been empty for about four years. He said the County "used to be in the nursing home business," but a private company bought the licenses for the Evergreens facilities in High Point and Greensboro and relocated to a new location.
He believes it could be a prime spot for helping homeless and struggling veterans.
"It had a nursing hub and it had five wings that branch off from that center," Davis described. "So it's ideal for a short term stay for veterans who need a place to stay."
At a panel discussion Friday, experts who represented various veterans services in the Piedmont shared what they believe are the most immediate needs for service members upon discharge.
A veteran Marine himself, Davis said there are lots of local services to help veterans but believes it's not enough.
"What are we not doing? What are we missing? Because obviously there's some gaps in service," he pointed out.
Tentative plans for the veterans center include housing, dental and medical care, a barber shop, and job training.
"We don't want to train folks, bring them off the streets, help them out, train them and then they end up without a job. So on the business end we have businesses who've committed to hire if we train these veterans," Davis added.
Veteran Mark Adams knows what it's like to return home from military service and have nothing. He was depressed and homeless at one point.
"I went through it all," Adams said. "You're out on the street right then and there because you've been discharged but you don't have anywhere to go."
He went back to school with help from the GI Bill and is now happily married. But he says other veterans in the Piedmont need our help.
Commissioner Davis doesn't have a projected cost of transforming the facility yet. He is working on a comprehensive plan to take to the Board of Commissioners.