Thursday July 19, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- Soldier On, which serves homeless and at-risk veterans with facilities in Pittsfield and Leeds, was awarded three grants totaling $2,976,402 by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to continue the fight against veteran homelessness in New York and New Jersey.

Soldier On was awarded two separate grants of $1 million each to serve veterans in four central New Jersey counties and 18 counties in upstate central New York. In addition, Soldier On received a $976,402 renewal grant to continue to provide housing services to veterans in 18 counties in upstate eastern New York.

These awards are among nearly $100 million in Supp ortive Services for Veteran Family (SSVF) grants targeted to provide housing stability for approximately 42,000 homeless and at-risk veterans and their families nationally. The grants, going to 151 community agencies in 49 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, were announced by Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.

"We are committed to ending veteran homelessness in America," Shinseki said. "These grants will help VA and community organizations reach out and prevent at-risk veterans from losing their homes."

Soldier On, which serves homeless veterans through its programs in Western Mass achusetts and eastern New York, has already served nearly 500 at-risk veterans, spouses and children through a $1 million SSVF grant awarded in 2011 for 18 counties in eastern New York.

Soldier On also received a $300,000 grant in June through the U.S.


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Department of Labor's Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program to conduct employment training for veterans in eastern New York. The New Jersey grant will serve approximately 400 participant households in the central New Jersey counties of Burlington, Monmouth, Midd le sex and Ocean. Prin cipal cities served in the new central New York grants include Bing hamton, Syracuse, Roch ester and Utica, where approximately 400 more households will be served.

"Soldier On's development and growth in Western Massachusetts has developed a model of outreach and services for underserved veterans that is now being recognized as a model for other states," Soldier On President and CEO John F. Downing said. "We look forward to continue the growth and development of this model."

The SSVF funds enable the grantees to provide supportive services for veterans including outreach in the community and with their local VA, case management services, assistance with obtaining VA benefits and other services. This includes help in obtaining health care services, financial planning services, transportation, fiduciary and payee services, legal services and housing counseling. The grant may also provide temporary financial assistance for rent, security and utility deposits, utility fees, moving costs, child care, emergency supplies and transportation.

All SSVF grants go into effect Oct. 1. After that date, veterans seeking to enroll in the program, or service providers wishing to refer veterans, should call Soldier On at 1-866-406-8449. For further information regarding the SSVF program, go to www.va.gov/homeless/ssvf.asp.

Soldier On provides safe affordable housing to homeless veterans, including permanent limited-equity ownership units at the Gordon Mansfield Vet erans Community in Pitts field. The Mansfield Veterans Co mm unity serves as a national model as Soldier On actively seeks to extend its successful veterans programs to communities throughout the United States.

For further information about Soldier On, go to www.wesoldieron.org.