Until a month ago, one lived in the woods, another lived in his broken down car and she lost everything in a fire.
What is the thread tying these three people together? They are American veterans and all struggle with challenges that left them homeless. Thankfully, they were all helped by United Way’s newest initiative, Priority Veteran. Today, these three veterans have safe places to live and are getting help in gaining control of their lives. To date more than 400 of Alabama’s veterans have found help through Priority Veteran, which, with support from the Veterans Administration, focuses on homelessness and provides one-on-one case management for safe, stable housing, financial stability and self-sufficiency.
Many returning soldiers, once willing to fight for our nation, now need our help in fighting their personal battles. Nearly 20% of returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or depression, and a surprising 45% of returning veterans never apply for veteran’s benefits.
How does Priority Veteran help? Clients get assistance in applying for and navigating Veterans Administration benefits and work closely with Priority Veteran case managers on such needs as access to health/mental healthcare, financial coaching, stable housing and household needs.
Here is an excerpt from a letter written by a program client:
” I really felt worthless, inferior and ashamed of how I was living trying to go it alone. I thank Priority Veteran for helping me get back on my feet and encourage me to continue to strive toward a better life. I will always remember that I have people with genuine care and concern for me and Veterans like me.”
To learn more about the program and how you can help, visit www.priorityveteran.org
__________________________________________________________________________________________________Sources: “Invisible Wounds of War: Psychological and Cognitive Injuries, Their Consequences, and Services to Assist Recovery,” RAND, 2008: http:/www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/MG720/. How Many Veterans are Accessing VA? www.va.gov