Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks in Fayetteville is building a 20-bed rehabilitation center, allowing veterans to live onsite while undergoing substance abuse treatment.
The $9.9 million project to build the 22,352-square-foot Leroy Pond Mental Health Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Program on Woolsey Avenue started three months ago and is expected to be completed in summer or fall 2017, said Jacque Long, facilities director for Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks. One of the buildings of the former Leroy Pond Army Reserve Center was removed to make room for the new center.
Long explained that renovating the old center would have cost as much to build a new one, and the health system opted to build. Zeison Construction Co. of North Kansas City, Mo., is the general contractor.
The new center will be named in honor of U.S. Army Lt. Col. Leroy “Fireball” Pond, a highly decorated veteran who earned the nickname because of his blond-reddish hair and fearless behavior in battle during World War II, according to Shiloh Museum of Ozark History. The Fayetteville native, who received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Arkansas and for whom the street south of Bud Walton Arena is named, was wounded in action on Dec. 14, 1944, in Dillingen, Germany, and died as a result of his wounds on Jan. 15, 1945. He was 27.
The residential rehabilitation center will offer a 90-day program, allowing residents to “come and go as they please,” and will be an extension of the health system’s 28-day substance abuse program, Long said. The latter service had been handled by a third party, but the health system is bringing back the outpatient service and will be handled at the center when it opens next year. Along with the substance abuse treatment program, the center will also be available for co-occurring mental illness diagnosis including PTSD, mood or anxiety disorders, and to help homeless veterans.
“We are very excited about being able to bring this to the facility,” Long said. The level of care the health system can offer to veterans will be “much improved.”