LaGRANGE, Ga. (WRBL) – Sandra Brownlee is a retired Master Sergeant from the U.S. Army who started Discovering Soldiers Potential II five years ago. Today the organization has a staff of 27 people, all of whom are volunteers.
DSPII, is a non-profit organization, that helps soldiers in their transitional period once they have left the armed forces.
Brownlee works closely with the veterans and Veterans Affairs offices to ensure that veterans are getting compensation, housing and food.
“We don’t ask for funding from our veterans for the service we offer because really, its things they should know before leaving the service, that they don’t get,” said Sandra Brownlee, Founder of DSPII.
Brownlee founded the organization after running into a a veteran who was asking for food on the side of an interstate. She quickly realized many veterans were in his same position. Many soldiers struggle to find jobs after leaving the service and can often end up homeless or struggling for food.
It is important to Brownlee that the veterans she works with feel understood.
“We’re all military or military associated so we understand. I think that is our key marker that when they come into our office they understand that they’re dealing with someone that really do understand them,” said Brownlee.
At first, Brownlee was working out of different Dunkin Donuts’ across the state until finding her first stable location in Griffin, Ga.
“I wound up in Griffin, Georgia and I met with the county commissioners there. They saw a great need for their veterans in that community, the military affairs agreed as well,” said Brownlee.
Since then, Brownlee has opened up four different offices all over the state in Griffin, LaGrange, Macon and Columbus. She noticed the biggest gaps in help for these veterans was in rural areas because many V.A. offices are placed in metropolitan cities.
“Over 80% of our veterans that serve in the military come from rural community areas so I sort of felt my target audience was that community,” said Brownlee.
DSPII has been working strictly off of donations from the community.
“We try to do the best that we can which means that if we can get you compensation, we’re going to make sure that we get it,” said Brownlee.
DSPII is continuing to expand including moving into a new facility, the old Georgia State Patrol building in LaGrange. The building has living facilities available for veterans in the transitional period.
Board Secretary for DSP II, Jennifer Corcione, believes having DSPII in LaGrange provides veterans with a place to go to for all their needs.
“We’ve been able to serve hundreds of extra people by having DSPII here in the local community,” said Corcione.