'Where veterans with PTSD and substance abuse issues can truly have a reset on life'

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ALMA, Ore. - The property along Siuslaw Road had a different life as forest work camp for minimum security inmates in the custody of the Lane County Sheriff's Office.

Money ran out a decade ago and the work camp closed.

Now the camp is on the verge of a new era as home of the Veterans Legacy project.

The camp will be a place "here veterans with PTSD and substance abuse issues can truly have a reset on life," Dr. John Lebow said.

Lebow is president of the Veterans Legacy board. The group aims to create a new paradigm for services to veterans.

"The whole issue with PTSD is that it's not something that's cured overnight," board member Phillip Groshong said.

The idea is for a therapy program built in a rural setting, using therapeutic agriculture and other methods to help veterans find a new way back.

"If it takes a year or more for someone to really feel comfortable and maybe get back into society, that's what we hope to be able to do here," Groshong said.

Lebow said clinic staff will ask the vets, "How do you think you will get well?"

The camp will "provide some alternatives," Lebow said, "so that alternative could be wood-working, metal shop."

On Friday, with a Rolling Thunder motorcycle escort, Lane County officially transferred ownership of the old camp to Veterans Legacy for one dollar.

"As veterans come here to heal, Veterans Legacy will help interrupt the cycle of homelessness that affects so many of those who have served our country," Lane County Commissioner Gary Williams said.

Officials hope by January, operational funding will be secure and that vets will find their road back at Camp Alma.

"It is quiet and it is certainly out in kind of out in the middle of nowhere," Groshong said. "That's not a bad thing."

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