Warner Robins couple starts nonprofit for homeless vets

Rachel and Rick Kovach want to help Houston County's homeless veterans through their nonprofit R&R Ranch/Katie Thurber (WGXA)

WARNER ROBINS, Ga. -- Rachel and Rick Kovach want to help Houston County's homeless veterans through their nonprofit R&R Ranch.

“It’s for rest. It’s for rehabilitation. It’s for reintegration. It can stand for anything you need it to stand for,” said Rachel.

Their goal is to create a farm where vets can live, work and recover.

“So many people just don’t understand what they go through, but we do and that’s why we want to help,” said Rick.

The Kovachs said that it’s easy for vets to get lost finding the right services and meeting all the requirements.

“We want to kind of break that cycle,” Rick said. “Get them in, get them a place that’s safe and get them back on their feet.”

The Kovach’s idea is officially a non-profit, but they can’t get started building yet. They still need to the land.

The Kovachs are looking for 50 to 100 acres in Houston County for housing units and farmland. They believe once they get started, the community will help out.

Ruben Johnson is a formerly homeless veteran now living in a new apartment in Macon. It’s a fresh start after what's been a rough year for him.

“After my mother passed about a year ago I started suffering from severe depression,” said Johnson.

Johnson said that he went down the path of substance abuse and eventually ended up with nowhere to go.

“To be homeless makes you feel helpless and desperate and it takes away from your dignity,” he said.

With help from the VA in Dublin, the Volunteers of America and his family, Johnson said he's back on his feet. Not every veteran gets the opportunities that Johnson got, though.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, roughly 40,000 veterans nationwide are homeless on any given night.

For Johnson, having a home has changed his whole outlook.

“It is wonderful to have my own place free and clear! That’s the next part, to maintain it,” he said.

Through R&R Ranch, Rachel and Rick Kovach want to give other people that same hope for a normal life.

“We can do our part to end homelessness for vets,” Rick said.

The Kovachs will hold a fundraiser to help build R&R Ranch into a farm on Saturday, June 16, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. in Warner Robins between Flint Energies and We Care Heating and Air Conditioning on Carl Vinson Pkwy.

R&R Ranch has a "Help Build the Ranch" fundraising site and a Facebook page.

For more information about veteran services, contact the VECTR Center or the Volunteers of America.

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