“Beyond dreams!” That is how Marine Corps Veteran Rickey Ginn described his newly renovated transitional residence apartment at the Tuscaloosa VA.
“I can’t say enough about the staff and how helpful they have been in my recovery.”
Ginn completed the inpatient residential treatment program (RRTP) but wasn’t quite ready to live independently in the community. The Compensated Work Therapy-Transitional Residence Program (CWT-TR) was the perfect next step for him in his recovery.
The CWT-TR program in Tuscaloosa is a 12-bed residential program designed to provide a safe, supportive, therapeutic environment for Veterans living with substance abuse disorders, psychiatric problems, homelessness or vocational deficits.
Individual plan helps prepare for independent living
Veterans develop an individualized treatment plan in conjunction with their case manager, typically staying in CWT-TR for 6-9 months while working, saving money and preparing for more independent living.
The 12 beds were previously located in two historic homes on the campus dating back to 1932 when the main facility was constructed. As with any older structure, repairs and updates were a constant concern, along with maintaining a safe and healthy environment for the Veterans.
“COVID presented the perfect opportunity for us to renovate the unused space in one of our attached buildings,” said Dr. Andrew Oakland, RRTP manager. “We had already moved Veterans who were living in the old TR houses into the medical center due to COVID precautions. We thought ‘What better time than now?’ to take time to complete the renovation.”
“It’s the freedom that matters.”
The new apartments now offer a truer representation of that “next step” of reintegration into the community. They have spacious rooms, well-equipped kitchens, and a fresh, modern aesthetic.
Ginn is one of the first Veterans to move into the new apartments. He is overwhelmed by the quality that has gone into making them feel like home. “I rate them a 5-star or A+! But more than that, it’s the freedom that matters. It’s the little things you don’t realize you miss, like being able to cook a burger when I want one or not stand in line to wash my laundry. I also can’t say enough about the CWT-TR staff and how helpful they have been in my recovery.”
The CWT-TR staff at Tuscaloosa will begin admitting two to three Veterans a week until the apartments are filled. The ultimate goal is helping Veterans transition to full-independence so that they can live productively in their local communities.
April Jones is the interim public affairs officer and innovation specialist at the Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center. Photos courtesy Mike Harris, visual information specialist.