Veterans center opens in former GSP Post

Published 9:30 am Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

On Tuesday, the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce cut the ribbon on the new Richard English Waypoint Veteran Service Center.

Discovering Soldiers Potential – The Second Time Around (DSPII) WayPoint will officially launch its new full-service Veteran Service Center in the newly renovated former Georgia State Patrol Post on Hamilton Road in LaGrange on April 27. The center is offering comprehensive support to veterans and their families.

The center is named for Vietnam Veteran and longtime Troup County Commissioner Richard English, whose dedication to public service has been an inspiration to the LaGrange and Troup County community.

DSPII WayPoint is a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to assisting with transitional needs and eradicating homelessness for veterans in America.

Sandra Brownlee, Founder and CEO, said the center specializes in helping veterans transition from military service.

“In a lot of ways this place has been transitional for its entire use. For someone who grew up here, turning 16, this is where your life changed,” Chamber Chairman John Westmoreland said. “I’m glad to see that it’s going to continue to have that history.”

The former GSP post served as the Georgia Department of Driver Services for decades before both agencies moved out to new locations. The building has been vacant for quite a while and the county had considered selling the property or demolishing it.

Commission Chairman Patrick Crews said that they researched the deed and found out that the location was their property, so long as it was used for the community.

“I was kind of an embarrassment sometimes to ride by and look at it and then along comes Sandra and it worked out. She had a plan of vision to take this building and bring it back to life and put it together and put it to good use for the community,” Crews said.

Brownlee said when she started the non-profit seven years ago, she had no building, no office, not even an official desk. She met with veterans at Dunkin Donuts with a laptop trying to get them the help they needed.

Spalding County later saw a need and gave her a space to start, but Brownlee said it wasn’t home so she brought the non-profit to her native LaGrange.

Since then the non-profit has helped bring back $422 million back to the community based on just getting them enrolled in the Veterans Affairs system.

“We’ve enrolled well over 38,000 very into the VA services which is phenomenal,” Brownlee said.

Some of the other services Waypoint provides include Compensation/Claims Processing, Case Management, Benefits Counseling Services, Employment Resources and Services, Behavioral Health Treatment, Legal Services, Financial Management Services, Education Resources and Services, Housing and Emergency Services, Service Member Spousal Assistance and  Funeral Services.

Not only does the renovated building provide offices for help for these services, but it also serves as a transitional center for veterans to live for up to 14 months so they can get back on their feet.

There are also no age limits for the services either. Brownlee said she recently helped a 90-year-old veteran and a young serviceman who had just gotten out of the military.