VETHELP has operated a very successful program to assist homeless veterans since 1988 and is located in Ballston Spa, NY. VETHELP serves veterans in seven counties: Saratoga, Washington, Warren, Schenectady, Montgomery, Fulton and Hamilton.
Hardships, often compounded by a loss of family and social support networks, make the issue of homelessness a difficult social challenge. Our belief in veterans helping veterans through shared experiences and in considering the whole individual – mentally, physically and spiritually – is why our program is successful in empowering homeless veterans to embrace and maintain independent living and self-sufficiency.
VETHELP is a program whose mission is to serve the needs of homeless military veterans by empowering them to embrace and maintain independent living and self-sufficiency. This is affectively accomplished by helping veterans secure temporary and permanent housing, viable employment and access to health care. Assistance in addressing other life issues is provided as well.
VETHELP operates two facilities that provide transitional housing for 11 females and 12 males. The housing provides residents with a comfortable living environment to address the complex factors effecting their homelessness. Job loss, alcoholism, substance abuse, lack of access to health care, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), military sexual trauma, and other hardships are struggles that these veterans have encountered following their release from the military.
VETHELP also provides access to essential resources. These Legal, Educational, Financial, and Medical/Mental Health concerns. We also provide counseling to the veterans on budget issues, relationship building/repairing, and independent life after they successfully graduate from our program. Residents progress through this program with increasing independence while providing community service to other veterans and local service organizations.
The VETHELP team prepares each homeless veteran for the reintegration program. Each veteran is given a thorough assessment and evaluation. Through partnering with the Veteran’s Administration residents receive individual counseling and on-site assistance to deal with PTSD, substance abuse, emotional and family problems. Trained case managers and VA social workers are on site to assist all veterans with their issues and start to develop short and long-term goals to attain self-sufficiency.
We provide assistance to find educational and job training services. Resident veterans become productive members of the community through job skills development and general employment through partnerships with local businesses. Through community service veterans regain their hope to return to employment.
Transitional Housing provides clients with a more comfortable living environment. Clients must either be working, enrolled in a training or educational program and/or in a treatment program to enter this component. This program rewards clients for the work they have done and prepares them for the transition to self-sufficiency.
VETHELP works through the assistance of the US Department of Labor “Homeless Veteran’s Reintegration Program” grant to provide an array of services utilizing a case management approach that directly assists homeless veterans as well as provide critical linkages for a variety of supportive services available in their local communities.
The VETHELP program is “employment focused” and veterans receive the employment and training services they need in order to re-enter the labor force. Job placement, training, job development, career counseling, resume preparation, are among the services that are provided. Supportive services such as clothing donations, provision of or referral to temporary, transitional, and permanent housing, referral to medical and substance abuse treatment, and transportation assistance are also provided to meet the needs of this target group.
Our five VETHELP employment specialists work with the programs outreach component using veterans who themselves have experienced homelessness. In recent years, this successful technique was modified to allow the programs to utilize formerly homeless veterans in various positions where there is direct client contact such as counseling, peer coaching, intake, and follow-up services. In calendar year 2011 VETHELP had 107 job placements with local employers.
The emphasis on helping homeless veterans get and retain jobs is enhanced through many linkages and coordination with various veterans’ services programs and organizations such as the Disabled Veterans’ Outreach Program and Local Veterans’ Employment Representatives stationed in the local employment service offices of the State Workforce Agencies, Workforce Investment Boards, One-Stop Centers, Veterans’ Workforce Investment Program, the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Departments of Veterans’ Affairs, Housing and Urban Development, and Health and Human Services.
An invaluable resource utilized by VET HELP staff to encourage employers to hire veterans was made available thru the Vow to Hires Heroes ACT of 2011. This act, signed into law by President Obama, established some significant benefits for employers to hire veterans. The detailed provisions of this Act can be reviewed at www. doleta.gov.
For further information:
Leslie Carroll, Employment Manager