Friday, November 9, 2012

Serving Our Nation’s Veterans

By Brittany Hutson, NeighborWorks America public relations fellow

Ronald, U.S. Army, and his wife, Denise
Every day NeighborWorks organizations across the country salute our nation’s military veterans by offering them the housing and additional services they need to live in affordable homes and take part in strong, vibrant communities. One of those organizations is the Primavera Foundation (Primavera) in Tucson, Arizona. Primavera, which assists individuals and families out of poverty and homelessness, offers veterans housing support and temporary financial assistance through the Project Action for Veterans program (Project Action).

Project Action is supported
Jac’Queline, U.S. Army
by grants from the Veterans Affairs’ Supportive Services for Veterans Families (SSVF) program and it’s a collaboration between Primavera and two local nonprofits – Old Pueblo Community Services and Esperanza en Escalante. Tammie Brown, manager of Project Action, says that in fiscal year 2011 Primavera served nearly 500 veterans through their transition out of homelessness. The veterans’ transition was supplemented by job seeking and training services, temporary financial assistance, and financial education. Primavera assists veterans of all ages with a large concentration ranging in the 35 to 61 age group. Brown says Project Action is expecting to work with younger veterans in the upcoming months as they return home from Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2011, Primavera served 29 veterans of these conflicts.

John, U.S. Navy
Primavera is also committed to supporting veterans who are homeless or facing eviction. This is important for the nearby Pima County, Arizona, where one of every 145 residents is homeless, many of them veterans.  Primavera’s approach is to seek long term solutions to the underlying causes of homelessness. Project Action participants are assessed to identify the causes of their homelessness, and then Primavera provides an individualized support program to help participants overcome those barriers. “We find that unemployment seems to be the biggest barrier,” says Brown. “In Pima County, employment is very scarce if you don’t have the job skills to tap into the military, healthcare, aviation or university industries. We sent some vets to truck driver training school and paid for another to receive airline inspection training.” Once the individualized support program is created, the veterans work with a Primavera case manager for up to five months. In the interim, the program offers short term and temporary financial assistance for needs such as rental payments, rental deposits, and utility payments.

Just as our veterans worked tirelessly and selflessly to defend our country, NeighborWorks organizations are dedicated to ensuring that our veterans are supported when they return home.

How are you helping veterans in your community? Post a response below or contact us via Facebook or Twitter.