Business Partners Plan Mental Health Facility For Veterans With A Commmunity Approach

Mar 6, 2014

Plans are coming together for Oasis Residential@Emerson, a new supportive living community in St. Louis for veterans and other individuals with mental health issues, said business partners Sherman Strong and Kendall Brune.

At the center of the community will be an assisted living facility with 96 beds at 5341 Emerson Avenue, the former site of Cardinal Ritter Preparatory College. But Strong and Brune envision Oasis Residential@Emerson as a holistic community that will bring together many agencies and services, as well as provide housing for the families as the veterans go through treatment.

“The vets that we have today are a much more mature vet, they’re married, they have kids, so traditional dormitory-style housing wasn’t appropriate, and you really needed to care for the whole family,” Brune said.

While the assisted living facility is still in the planning phase as the partners work out some planning and zoning issues, one location for family housing, River Trace Townhomes, is already open.  The apartment complex is just four blocks away from 5431 Emerson. According to a press release from AnthemUSA, the apartments reached full occupancy with two months of opening.  

Kendall Brune is a principal at AnthemUSA, which owns River Trace Townhomes. He formed AnthemUSA in partnership with four other men in 2013 to create rehabilitation communities for veterans.

Sherman Strong is the pastor of Restoration Temple Church of God in Christ, and has worked with veterans with mental health issues for around 18 years. He is also the owner of Oasis Residential Care, which provides almost 50 beds between 3 facilities in St. Louis for veterans and other individuals with mental health issues. He himself is a Vietnam veteran.

When Strong started working with veterans eighteen years ago, not much was known about the toll of war on mental health.

“At certain times we were up against trying to [help veterans with mental illness and brain injuries] without really knowing how to get it done,” he said. But now, a wealth of research and studies give them direction.

According to Strong, Oasis Residential@Emerson will accept male patients with anything from PTSD to brain damage to mental illness. Eventually, Strong and Brune hope to open up a separate facility for female veterans.

But for now, the two are working on ironing out partnerships with non-profits and other agencies and planning development of the Emerson facility.

The groups they plan on working with include rehab providers, veteran service officers at universities, and support organizations like Heroes Care and Veterans Employment.

“Our goal is by the springtime we should start development, and we should have it online by the end of the year,” Brune said.

St. Louis on the Air provides discussion about issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh.