And they’re getting hundreds of thousands of dollars of help from the federal government.
“To the veterans in the community we’ll be able to pay for first month, last month if they need it. We’ll be able to pay electrical bills. We can pay for day care. We can pay to get your car fixed so you can go to work,” explains John Downing, president and CEO of Soldier On.
All that and more thanks to a $757,000 Supportive Services for Veteran Families grant awarded by the VA.
The money will be used in partnership with Soldier On and Springfield Partners for Community Action to fund programs specifically for western Mass. vets. like Fredy Palacio.
“My first claim for compensation was on my own. It took forever and there was not a lot of knowledge out there. I’m talking back in ’99,” says Palacio, veteran outreach center coordinator.
Back then he had just left the Marine Corp. And like many vets Palacio just wasn’t sure what to do or where to go to get help.
“When you get out I had friends who were in with me and got out and still 5 years after they had no claims or anything and they had medical and mental issues so it was pretty much all on my own,” he adds.
Now, Palacio is the guy with the answers. Coordinating veteran outreach and helping his brothers and sisters in uniform get the services they earned fighting for our freedom.
With today’s announcement of federal funding the agencies will be able to provide case management, referral services, and financial assistance to at least 200 local veteran families.
“It could be inconceivable that people that have served the country, with honor and dignity, at a different phase of their lives could find themselves in a homeless situation. I know most of us can’t imagine that,” says Congressman Richard Neal, “If you give somebody just here the money but you give them no skills the money is going to be gone and you’re still going to have that same person coming back for help be it a veteran, be it a regular civilian. But if you give them something that they can work with it’s a great thing.”
The grant money for veterans assistance becomes operational starting in October.