Nonprofit for veterans opens up in LaGrange

Veteran’s Day passed us by last week, but for some LaGrange natives, assisting those who have served the country is a year-round mission.

On Tuesday, the LaGrange City Council heard from a U.S. Army veteran who founded a nonprofit waypoint for veterans in Griffin last year and is now working to expand that nonprofit’s work to LaGrange.

“I was born and raised here,” Sandra Brownlee said. “Joined the military from here, right downtown, and have served for 27 years in the United States Army. Upon retiring, I established an organization called Discovering Soldier’s Potential, and what we do is provide multiple services to veterans who are transitioning from military life, be it present day or previous services, and we assist them in getting their benefits claims and determining what needs they need met in order to be more successful in their communities.”

According to Brownlee, Discovering Soldier’s Potential Waypoints are funded through gifts-in-kind and donations. The service is only a year old, but it has worked with 1,900 veterans using a budget of just $17,000 along with approximately 21 volunteers. The group has also received assistance from the local government in the Griffin area.

“We do have our first service center which is located in Griffin, Georgia,” Brownlee said. “We opened that center last year on July 18, and in this year’s timeframe that we’ve been open, we’ve seen over 1,900 veterans in that center. We’ve put about 17 veterans in housing, about 11 in jobs, and we’ve found over 900 beneficial claims for veterans that never even knew they could. So, we are very happy about the success that’s in Spalding County, and we are looking forward to transferring that success here to my home town in Troup County.”

Brownlee says that she has seen quite a few veterans from the Troup County area at the nonprofit’s Griffin location which made the need for a center in LaGrange apparent.

“We have about 1,267 homeless veterans (in Georgia) on any given night,” Executive Director Terrence Lawrence said. “Right now, we are saving the community there in Griffin about $14,000 per individual that we house, and so we are definitely happy that we are able to do that.”

Right now, the LaGrange location is just getting started, but the group has already received some community support for the program.

“I have been very fortunate to partner with the CAFI organization, and they have given me a space in their building on Lafayette Parkway to actually start servicing our veterans here in this community,” Brownlee said.

Several council members expressed their appreciation for the work that Brownlee is doing with veterans and were glad to hear about the program.

“It is always a blessing to have fellow vets come forward and support and give back,” Councilmember Norma Tucker said.

The LaGrange City Council is scheduled to meet again on Nov. 28 at 5:30 p.m. at 208 Ridley Avenue. To learn more about Discovering Soldier’s Potential, visit Dspwaypoint.org.