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Patriots Path helps veterans find way

By Staff | Jun 19, 2009

Patriot’s Path Chairman Ed Reardon of Shepherdstown in front of the house on Kentucky Avenue in Martinsburg that will be dedicated today to the memory of USMC Col. Thomas M. Stokes Jr. Photos by James P. Whipple

The VA Medical Center (VAMC) in Martinsburg has one of the largest substance treatment programs in the nation, providing residential care to approximately 350 veterans each year and outpatient treatment to approximately 150 other veterans per week.

The Patriots Path Foundation originated in 2008 from a discussion with officials at the Martinsburg VA Medical Center (VAMC) concerning the need for veterans who had completed treatment, who needed to find safe and affordable housing. Edward J. Reardon, of Shepherdstown, is the Charmin and CEO of the Patriot’s Path Foundation and is a veteran pilot of the United States Marines Corps.

“When we originally started program it was to work with veterans with substance abuse,” Reardon said. “Our foundation has branched out since then. Recognizing that in order to successfully reintegrate into the community. Today our programs seek also to address other issues such as employment, transportation. Financial responsibilities and community service. Our residential housing remains a key element and a major focus of the Foundations efforts.”

The mission of Patriot’s Path is “to prepare veterans for and assist them with, reintegration with the community as they complete their treatment in the Veterans Affairs Medical System.”

David D. Hill is the President and Executive Director of the Foundation. A United States Marine Corps veteran, Hill calls himself an example of how the program works.

Ed Reardon

Hill entered the VA hospital Martinsburg in April of 2008 desperate, homeless and suicidal. “My life had completely fallen apart,” he writes in a letter. Doctors had diagnosed him with depression and Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. He was treated with medication and psychological counseling. Later, he was introduced to the Patriot’s Path Foundation. “My life begin to turn around,” Hill said. They helped him arrange his finances, find work and gave him a loan to get back on his feet. The money given was a loan which Hill was to repay.

“The only thing they asked was that I turn my life around,” Hill writes. “Today I am employed as an Engineer and am in my Children’s life again. I am forever grateful for everything they have done for me and continue to do for others.”

Reardon pointed out in an interview “While the Foundation initially assisted veterans who were exiting from the substance abuse program it quickly became obvious that the same programs and services would benefit veterans who were receiving treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PDSD) and other consequently, the Foundation’s mission was redefined and programs expanded to include a much broader segment of the veteran population.”

Through the housing program, three to four veterans live in each house after completing substance abuse treatment. Typically a resident has six to nine months sobriety before admission into the housing program. The veterans are employed in the community and pay rent.

“Thanks to a property owner we were able to find homes for our veterans returning to the community, Our success rate of the Patriot’s Path Foundation is very good,” Reardon said. The veterans who are in treatment are told about the Foundation and many ask to enroll in the program after their inpatient treatment is finished. Housing and other programs are offered.

“The money for the budget for the Foundation comes from private donations and in some cases from the staff’s on pocket.” Reardon said. No one on the staff at the Patriot’s Path Foundation receives a salary.

The Patriot’s Path Foundation is an IRS 501(c)(3) organization. If you wish to make a donation or find out more information about the Foundation you can go on line at www.patriotspath.org or send check payable to the Patriot’s Path Foundation at P.O. Box box 1773 Shepherdstown W.Va. 25438

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From 2000 to 2007 nearly 103,000 veterans were treated for substance abuse as in patients as well as out patients in in VA Medical centers through out the country. It is estimated that 61,800 or 60 percent were homeless. Many thousands are unemployed. After treatment many veterans lacked the skills necessary to over come the problems with trying to reenter the community. It was the problems which came after treatment with trying to find jobs and places to live that was the spark that started a discussion among friends who wanted to find a way of helping these veterans to get back on their feet and re enter the community. From this group of men the Patriot’s Path Foundation was founded.

Patriot’s Path Foundation Tribute

The Patriots Path Foundation Presents A Tribute to Colonel Thomas M. Stokes, Jr United States Marine Corps.. At Harewood Mansion. The event will be held Friday June 19 from 7 to 9 p.m. The Keynote speaker will be Brigadier General James B. Crawford III WVANG, Ret.

For more information please call Russell Harbaugh at (304) 728-2876.