By Emily Greenhalgh
PBN Web Editor
WASHINGTON – Two veteran advocacy nonprofits – Operation Stand Down Rhode Island and Veterans Inc. – will receive grants to help prevent and end homelessness among veterans, lawmakers announced Wednesday.
“Operation Stand Down Rhode Island and New Veterans, Inc. provide crucial services to reduce instances of homelessness among Rhode Island veterans, and help struggling veterans get back on their feet,” U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said in prepared remarks.
Operation Stand Down Rhode Island, which provides a range of services promoting housing stability among eligible, low-income veteran families, will receive $500,000 to serve roughly 440 Rhode Island veteran households.
Veterans Inc. will receive $1 million to serve veterans in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine.
Operation Stand Down Rhode Island intends to use the federal funds to provide outreach, case management, assistance in obtaining VA benefits and assistance in getting other public benefits. The organization may also offer temporary financial assistance on behalf of veterans for rent payments, utility payments, security deposits and moving costs.
Veterans Inc., which is headquartered in Massachusetts with office space in Pawtucket, intends to use the funds to support its causes of incorporating job training and employment assistance, health care and supportive services, such as transportation and legal aid to veterans and their families throughout New England.
“Our veterans have made great sacrifices to serve our country, and we must honor their commitment,” U.S. Sen. Jack Reed said in a statement. “When they return from the battlefield, they shouldn’t have to battle on their own to get help and affordable housing.”
In a statement, Erik B. Wallin, executive director of Operation Stand Down, said “this money comes at a critical time for our local veterans, especially those returning from recent deployments.”
“These veterans have returned with the scars of war both physical and mental and face the added burden of high unemployment and a stagnant local economy,” Wallin said. “Operation Stand Down Rhode Island will use the resources provided in this award to assist veterans in need to stay in their homes and provide services to help them get back on their feet so they can again pursue the American dream for which they fought.”
The grants are being awarded by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Supportive Services for Veteran Families Program.
This is the SSVF program’s second year and in 2011, the VA program provided roughly $60 million nationwide to help combat veteran homelessness.