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posted: 12/6/2012 5:30 AM

Veterans treatment facility will open Friday

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Kane County will have its first residential facility dedicated to helping homeless military veterans and those with post-traumatic stress disorder and/or substance abuse problems as of Friday.

The facility will operate out of the former Opportunity House, which was also a substance abuse facility, in Aurora. A nonprofit organization called Hope For Tomorrow, Inc. will operate the facility. The group has an established history of running long-term residential treatment centers with five other homes already up and running to assist up to 37 men and women without regard to their military service backgrounds.

Founding President Jeff Gilbert did not immediately respond to an interview request Wednesday.

The group's website said the organization recently piloted a long-term residential program to assist up to eight homeless veterans and their unique treatment needs. The new all-veterans facility, at 469 N. Lake St., will allow the organization to serve an additional 15 homeless veterans following a $300,000 renovation of the property.

John Carr leads Kane County's Veterans' Assistance Commission. He said the new facility will help fill a major gap in care for veterans who need help.

"This is a home that's greatly needed in Kane County," Carr said. "This will give us one more avenue to direct veterans who these problems. And it is pretty much the only facility of its kind in the area. It's really the best new service that can be provided to veterans here in Kane County at this time."

Kane County Board member T.R. Smith, a veteran, said funding and social service cuts have resulted in a loss of help for vets who need help with post-traumatic stress and the resulting substance abuse that sometimes accompany it.

"These kinds of places have been closing up not just in the county, but all over the state and nation for some time," Smith said. "I think it's wonderful that we're going in the other direction."

Kane County officials said the Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans in Wheaton is the only comparable facility they know of. That shelter was founded in 2000.

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