The Liberty Regional Homeless Coalition wants to prevent homelessness, a goal it shares with the local community and larger military community, as it is an issue faced by a growing number of veterans.
According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans website, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates an average of more than 40,000 veterans were homeless “any given night” in 2017. The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates 11 percent of the adult homeless people are veterans. About 1.4 million veterans are considered to be at risk for homelessness, according to nchv.org.
As a way to reach veterans who might be at risk, and to provide services to area servicemembers and their families, the LRHC held its first Operation Stand Down Saturday, in partnership with the Fort Stewart garrison command, the VA and the Georgia Department of Veteran Services. More than 30 organizations, including Army Community Services, the Atlantic Judicial Circuit Veterans Court, and businesses and schools that offer services to the military participated. They provided information on health care, education, counseling, and job training and placement services.
“We processed about 500 people by noon today,” the Rev. Jim McIntosh, head of the coalition, said. He said his group strives to address the underlying issues that cause individuals to “lose everything” and become homeless. Issues such as job loss, inability to hold a job, substance abuse and mental health problems that should be examined in each client’s case, he said.
“The goal is to bring them to self-sustainability,” he said.
Once clients can sustain themselves, they require fewer services, McIntosh added.
In addition to serving homeless individuals, the coalition is finding families needing assistance with short-term and chronic homelessness, he said. Often these families are in and out of housing because they need assistance.
The coalition has also provided school uniforms to homeless families with children in Liberty County schools.
Coalition Vice President Jodee Adams said the organization initiated its school uniform drive last year, and will start another drive on July 1. This year, school supplies will also be collected.
“Last year we delivered 80 boxes of clothing,” McIntosh said.
Representatives of organizations that consistently work with veterans and their families also braved hot temperatures Saturday.
Larry Stanley, who works with the ACS family advocacy program, said his agency serves civilian spouses of soldiers, and those who live with or have had a child with a service member.
“We’re here for all of the soldiers’ family members and the retirees as well,” Stanley said.
ACS has programs that focus on employment and relocation readiness, services to assist with exceptional dependents, help during deployments and resilience training so family members can learn to face life’s challenges.
John Ely, chief assistant public defender with the Atlantic Judicial Circuit, and Della Martin Horner, administrator with the Veterans Treatment Court, handed out information about the treatment court. Ely explained the veterans’ treatment court is similar to civilian drug courts, linking veterans with substance abuse or trauma related issues with treatment, he said.
For more information, call McIntosh at 912-271-3192 or email email@example.com.