CONYERS, Ga. - A Vietnam War Veteran has been given the chance to start a new beginning thanks to a member of the Conyers Police Department.
Stephen Roszelle, who served with the U.S. Air Force as a Security Specialist, has been down on his luck lately and mourning the tragedy that took his wife's life. He's been a long-term resident of the Irwin Bridge Inn in Conyers, but was recently facing eviction with nowhere to turn.
Police had been called to the inn several times to find Roszelle dealing with alcoholism and deep depression. They suggested counseling and other resources, but had no luck. However, that changed when Patrol Officer Paul Bernichon came into the picture. Bernichon had been faced with charging Roszelle with the abuse of calling 911, but instead thought of a better solution.
Bernichon attended Georgia Military College and spent a lot of time doing events at the Georgia War Veterans Home (GWVH), which is a 375-bed facility that provides skilled nursing care to aged and infirm Georgia war veterans. It's licensed and certified by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
According to Conyers Police, patrol supervisors allowed Bernichon the time to help fill out applications, take Roszelle to the doctor for medical documentation and provide other items required by the GWVH.
One day, Bernichon found Roszelle walking down Main Street after not being able to reach him by phone. Police said Roszelle's rent had been increased and he could no longer make payments on his phone. Since GWVH needed a way to stay in touch with Roszelle, Officer Bernichon paid two months of service on the veteran's phone. The money was out of Bernichon's own pocket.
Roszelle, who is losing his eyesight, has only dialed 911 once since the day Bernichon decided to help him. It was to deliver the good news that the GWVH was reviewing his case.
Roszelle was eventually accepted into the program. He said he's thankful for the Conyers Police Department.
"The number one day in one's law enforcement career always changes as we go along. But, I think this will be it," said Officer Bernichon. "The first time I was truly able to physically be a part of changing someone's life for the better."
Bernichon picked up Roszelle in a police cruiser Tuesday morning and took him to a celebratory breakfast at Cracker Barrel and after that he drove him to his new home in Milledgeville.