NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — Many retired veterans struggle, not always knowing where to turn. However, Bastion Community of Resilience, located on Mirabeau Avenue, is a haven for veterans, with 80 percent of its residents being veterans.

“Bastion is America’s first community for disabled veterans and their families,” said Bastion’s Executive Director Jackson Smith.

The living community is not only providing veterans with homes but also connecting them with neighbors.

“Veterans can live here where people know who they are, and they can feel that they are surrounded by people who deeply know them,” Smith said.

Smith says he understands veterans’ needs.

“I can say as a veteran I had a plan. I expected to thrive. I had the GI bill, and came back to NOLA, the city that I love, but there were no replacements for what I lost. When I took the uniform off, it took a long time feeling the pain of that loss,” Smith said.

It is his goal to help other veterans regain their sense of identity and purpose through a sense of belonging.

“We see tremendous things when veterans surround themselves with non-veterans and for them to see what a civilian world looks like. What we’ve found with a variety of populations is that it creates a magical effect,” he said.

The homes are built with an unconventional design where the porches face each other.

“Every time a resident comes in and out of their home, they are going to socialize,” he said.

Bastion is also part of the New Orleans Veterans Coalition, in which 12 local organizations work together to help veterans. For their service, he says it is a responsibility to return that service.

“We have to do everything in our power to work together, collaborate, and present a united front. Think about what that individual took on when they served. We have a duty, an obligation to veterans,” Smith said.

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