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New veteran treatment center one step closer to opening

Just last week, Lane County Commissioners voted to officially transfer this property to the nonprofit.

Posted: Sep. 6, 2018 7:34 PM
Updated: Sep. 6, 2018 7:53 PM

VENETA, Ore. -- A former work camp in Lane County is being turned into a new treatment center for veterans. Camp Alma is designed to help them heal in a safe and serene environment.

One veteran who's volunteering his time to get it up and running said a place to help veterans heal emotional wounds is vital.

"It's very important. I think it's something we're lacking out there," said Michael Simmons, a Navy veteran.

Simmons was in the Navy for four years.

"I was a Turbine Diesel Mechanic on the USS Kitty Hawk," said Simmons. He said he did a lot of traveling: "It was a great experience."

When he got out of the military, he didn't notice the emotional wounds that experience can leave behind.

"Those are the ones that don't get treated so much," said Simmons. "You can deal with a physical wound because it's there front and center. It's the emotional wounds that are hidden."

That's why he said Camp Alma is desperately needed.

"There's PTSD, drug addiction, alcoholism...and this is going to provide some help with all of that," said Simmons.

Simmons and other volunteers with Veterans Legacy are turning the nearly 30-year-old former Lane County work camp into a serene environment for veterans to heal.

Just last week, Lane County Commissioners voted to officially transfer this property to the nonprofit.

"I think the biggest thing it does is validate us," said Dr. John Lebow, Veterans Legacy Board President. "It's such a big accomplishment and it's such a neat combination of entities to achieve a broader goal."

Dr. Lebow said a lot of donations have been coming in, like these new kitchen appliances courtesy Rebel Rally Motorcycle Association.

Along with 55 bed frames and a piano from the University of Oregon.

Dr. Lebow said they don't have an exact date for opening yet. He said the facility is on the cusp of being ready to go. The big hurdle now, is financing. He said that's one reason why they offer a membership program on their website.

"When there's 42,000 vets in Lane County...a small percentage of that in addition to family and friends could make a huge difference at $60 a piece," said Dr. Lebow.

Simmons said it's time for Lane County to have a place like this, to heal veterans: "We absolutely need. It's vital."

If you'd like to learn more about how get involved, click here.

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