The former Erskine Barracks will be the first UK development with housing set aside for UK veterans
The multi-million pound project will see a former army barracks in Wiltshire transformed into homes for ex-service personnel.
44 homes will be built at the former Erskine Barracks near Salisbury; the first time a development has been built to address the needs of veterans trying to adjust back into civilian life.
The announcement comes after Express.co.uk's Homes for Heroes campaign outed Wiltshire County Council in March as one of the local authorities failing to provide adequate care to homeless veterans, who were often suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
The scheme, created by regeneration company Our Enterprise, will offer rentals of between six to 24 months to former servicemen and women.
During that time, they will receive business and skills training at an "enterprise hub" located within the housing development.
The project will also provide a range of jobs for veterans – including running the community café on site or starting their own ground maintenance business.
Several volunteering, training and education opportunities will also be on offer.
Our Enterprise chief executive Matthew Bell said: “We all owe a huge debt to our forces and a project like this is long overdue.
“These men and women risk their lives for our safety, yet when they return home they are often faced with huge difficulties.
“This project is about supporting them on their return and helping them make the transition into civilian life in a positive way.
“I believe we have come up with a scheme which will reinvigorate this community and transform many lives for the better. Hopefully it will be a blue print for future developments across the UK and help open doors for our returning service personnel.”
Express.co.uk launched its Homes for Heroes campaign earlier this year, after uncovering troubling figures highlighting the plight of thousands of soldiers returning home from conflicts overseas.
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We all owe a huge debt to our forces and a project like this is long overdue. This project is about supporting them on their return and helping them make the transition into civilian life in a positive way
Our Enterprise chief executive Matthew Bell
According to several homeless charities, there are about 7000 ex-servicemen and women living rough and in desperate need of a roof over their head.
The Armed Forces Covenant and Community Covenant were introduced in 2012 as a contract stating Britain’s war heroes should take priority when it comes to affordable housing.
Despite all 407 UK local authorities signing up, the job of providing shelter is usually handed over to housing associations, which do not have the same obligation to help veterans.
Our campaign Homes for Heroes calls for all UK forces veterans to be given adequate housing
In many instances, mentally ill ex-servicemen and women still scarred by the horrors of war wait up to two years for medical help and therapy under Government approved channels.
By the time they get help many have attempted or committed suicide.
Others have spiralled into depression, alcoholism, violence, crime and substance addiction.
In March, Wiltshire County Council set up a task force looking at ways to better support homeless veterans, after Express.co.uk exposed the poor treatment of several ex-soldiers.
But now Wiltshire will be home to the first housing development to address the needs of veterans, after the council approved an application by Our Enterprise for the Our Wilton Trust.
The Trust is comprised of Our Enterprise, the Wilton Community Land Trust and Redrow Housing, which is building 292 family properties on the old Erskine Barracks and agreed to create the homes for vets scheme.
The project has received a £3.5 million grant from the Libor Fund and £500,000 from the Armed Forces Covenant.
It is expected the first veterans will move in by mid 2018.
All former service personnel can be nominated for a flat on the campus by one of the charitable organisations working with Our Wilton.
A committee made up of the Our Wilton team, Wiltshire County Council and military charities will make the decision on who is offered a home.
Thousands of British soldiers are being forced to live on the streets
Service veterans living and working in the area are supporting the project with offers to support and mentor those living on the campus once work is complete.
Greg Power served in 1st Battalion, The Coldstream Guards and saw active service in the Gulf, Northern Ireland and Bosnia. Greg, who runs Blighty Bushcraft, said: “The Our Wilton project is so important for those leaving the army. It allows like-minded people to connect and discuss what they have been through without fear of judgement.
“When I left the military, I found it difficult to speak about what I had experienced because there were no facilities like this available at that time.
“This made me feel isolated and at times alone. The Wilton Campus will help returning veterans by providing them with the skills needed to adjust to civilian life.
“To be involved with the Wilton project will allow me to mentor veterans through their readjustment process and teach them skills to help them in the future.”
Jon Fletcher, Regional Managing Director, Redrow Homes Southern Counties, said: “This is the first time we’ve worked on a project of this kind and it’s great to see construction finally get underway.
“We are thrilled and extremely honoured to be working closely with Our Enterprise to provide much needed homes and facilities for our local veterans."