New center will help veterans re-enter civilian life

New center will help veterans re-enter civilian life

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - An organization called the Renaissance Development Group is renovating a former childcare center in Gulfport into a one-stop-shop for veterans who are re-entering civilian life.

The Victory Gardens project will include a gym, life skills training, job search assistance and much more.

It was a project that had to happen, according to those leading the way. "I had no intentions of doing anything like this, but it was a vision that came and I had to perform," said Marine Corps vet, James Murphy.

Another part of the plan is to generate funds by selling AmeriQua spring water, a bottled water venture started just to help veterans. "What we're doing is taking care of them to get them back in the main stream of society, and it's all free," said Fred Boykin who retired from the 82nd Airborne Division.

According to Marine Corps vet James Murphy, this project is all part of a bigger idea to fill a void that exists for veterans right now.

"They're trained to kill, but no one has trained them how to come back home and become whole again," Murphy said. "What we are working on is working with veterans, as well as those that are in need, and help those people to better their lives."

Boykin said he's all in on the plans, "My family's military. I'm a dern military brat myself, and also a combat veteran. Vietnam, three tours," he said.

He sees this as an opportunity give his brothers and sisters who have served a hand up, not a hand out. It's part of an even bigger project in the works that includes a new construction in North Gulfport and a $30 million complex in Hancock County.

It's an effort that he says will be well worth it.

"There's no reason for over 300,000 homeless vets to be on the streets after they've served this country. There's no reason for that," said Boykin. He's hoping that this can help start to make that right.

According to Murphy, the facility could be up and running in as early as 60 days.

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