SCRANTON — A new building aimed at providing shelter and guidance to veterans has opened its doors in Scranton.
It’s the first transitional housing facility for vets who need a place to stay in Lackawanna County.
Jeffrey Ritchie served our country in Germany during the 1960′s. He and his 29 new roommates have lots of history to share. But, the last few years of Ritchie’s history haven’t been so bright.
“For me, I bought a house with my GI Bill, but they foreclosed on it because I got into an accident and I couldn’t work anymore,” Ritchie explained.
Most of the people moving into the new Catholic Social Services veteran’s housing this week have similar hard luck stories. And they all have similar hopes that the transitional living building will help them turn things around.
Residents, who applied to live there through the Veteran’s Administration, started moving in this week. They can live in the building and get treatment there for two years.
And then hopefully move on to something permanent.
There’s room for 30 veterans in the building. Each one gets their own room with a refrigerator and microwave, and privacy. Each door has a keep pad on it for the veterans to get in.
“They’ll eat together, they’ll cook their meals together, they’ll support each other in terms of whatever kind of treatment they need,” said Monsignor Joseph Kelly of Catholic Social Services.
Monsignor Kelly said the building was modeled off another transitional living facility in Chicago, and is the first of its kind in northeastern Pennsylvania.
Kelly said civilians aren’t always aware those who served us often struggle in their later years.
New resident Rich Gimbi said he feels his struggles are over. And for the first time in a while, he is thinking about what’s next for him.
“It’s secure, it’s safe, good environment, good people. Best thing is, you know, you have a roof over your head,” Gimbi said.
While many of the veterans have moved in to the facility, officials with Catholic Social Services said the new building isn’t totally ready yet. A food pantry and thrift clothing store on the first floor, open to the public, are also planned here.