Female veterans targeted with residential treatment home

A Pensacola nonprofit hopes to meet a growing need for services targeting female veterans with a new residential treatment center.

Pathways for Change is set to open the center July 1 and start providing counseling, addiction treatment, job training and other programs immediately.

"We hope this will become a little sanctuary for the women who stay here," said Connie Bookman, Pathways for Change founder, on Wednesday during a tour of the west Pensacola building that will house up to 12 women."Pathways for Change is already in the business of counseling, and our whole purpose is to provide shelter. When you have two organizations working together to help our female veterans, that's a good thing," Bullock-Prevot said.

Judge Edward P. Nickinson, who oversees Escambia County's Veterans' Court, said the need for services targeting female veterans in the Pensacola area is great.

"I absolutely see the need," he said. "Traditionally, there have been more facilities for male veterans who are homeless. The same is true for substance abuse treatment."

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The Veterans' Court, which has been open since June 2015, was created as an alternative to jail for veterans who commit nonviolent crimes. The court is a voluntary 12- to 18-month program that combines counseling, rehabilitation and court monitoring.

Nickinson said the court has so far seen about 50 veterans and about one-third are female veterans.

Pathways for Change was able to move forward with the residential treatment center for female veterans because of a $200,000 grant from the Dugas Family Foundation. The foundation, created by the family behind Dollar General Stores, agreed to match up to $200,000 in donations for the project. Bookman said the grant brought Pathways within reach of its $525,000 fundraising goal for the project.

Pathways provides many other programs in the west Pensacola area. Its family center near Baptist Hospital offers services including GED preparatory classes, anger-management counseling and child care.

Want to know more?

For more information about Pathways for Change and the H.E.R. Foundation Inc., visit pathwaysforchange.org and facebook.com/HER.FOUNDATION.NWFL.