More than $5 million awarded to three South Florida non-profits to help nearly 2,000 local Veteran families
WASHINGTON – Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki announced last week the award of nearly $300 million in grants that will help approximately 120,000 homeless and at-risk Veterans and their families. The grants have been awarded to 319 community agencies in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, including more than $5 million to three groups serving Veterans in south Florida’s Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
“With these grants, we are strengthening our partnership with community non-profits across the country to provide Veterans and their families with hope, a home, and a future,” said Shinseki. “The work of Supportive Services for Veteran Families program grantees has already helped us prevent and end homelessness among tens of thousands of homeless Veterans and their families, but as long as a single Veteran lives on our streets, we have work to do.”
Two years ago, Eddie Miller, a 20-year Army Veteran who served throughout the Vietnam era who and became homeless on the streets of Miami had his life changed, and possibly saved, through the VA-funded program.
“In all candor, beyond the traumatic events I experienced during my military service, nothing prepared me for the public response I and many other Vietnam veterans were subjected to after that war ended,” Miller said. “I struggled for many years, including battling addictions, although was always blessed by the support of a loving wife … When my wife died two years ago, I became homeless. There were many times that I thought I should die too … Today, I am proud to say I have recaptured my life. After a long period of homelessness, I have stable housing. After an even longer period of struggling to find purpose, I have that every day in my service to my community, neighbors, and, and most important, other Veterans.”
Under the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program, VA has awarded grants to private non-profit organizations and consumer cooperatives such as Carrfour Supportive Housing‘s Operation Sacred Trust (“OST”) initiative. The program provides services to very low-income Veteran families living in — or transitioning to — permanent housing. The SSVF program supports VA’s efforts to prevent at-risk Veterans from becoming homeless and rapidly re-house those who have recently fallen into homelessness.
Thanks to the SSVF grants, Operation Sacred Trust has been able to serve nearly 3,000 Veterans and their family members since first receiving funding from the VA in September 2011. OST, a collaboration of Carrfour Supportive Housing, PAIRS Foundation, Henderson Behavioral Health, and others, provides a range of services that promote housing stability, increased resiliency through strengthened connections with family and social supports, and plays a key role connecting Veterans and family members to additional VA services and other benefits. The program also provides many Veteran families with temporary financial assistance for rent payments, utility payments, security deposits and moving costs.
In 2009, President Obama and Secretary Shinseki announced the federal government’s goal to end Veterans’ homelessness in 2015. The grants are intended to help accomplish that goal. According to the 2012 Point-in-Time Estimates of Homelessness, homelessness among Veterans has declined 17.2 percent since 2009.
More information about VA’s national homeless programs is available at www.va.gov/homeless. Details about the Operation Sacred Trust program serving Veterans in Broward and Miami-Dade counties is available at www.411Veterans.com or by calling (855) SSVF-411 (778-3411) x801.
Rob Henthorn grew up in a military family in Arlington, Virginia. His father served in the U.S. Army’s light infantry during WWII, the Ar