On October 18th, the El Paso County Homeless Veterans Coalition (EPCHVC) conducted it's 18th a one-day “Stand Down” at the Colorado Springs auditorium. The event started at 9:00 a.m. and it was projected to assist close to 200 Homeless Veterans. In addition, EPCHVC and it's large base of volunteer organizations, (including VSS) provided support for a multi-day Transitional Housing Initiative (THI) which assisted 10 Family Units for 30 days.
During the “Stand Down”, Homeless Veterans received help and assistance obtaining a number of health, housing, and personal assistance solutions to their particular homelessness situation and then during the THI follow-ups the initial Sand Down effort is enhanced addressing short term issues of shelter, food, transportation, and security for a group of high risk Homeless Veterans.
The Stand Down: (From EPCHVC)
The “Stand Down” prepares each Homeless Veteran for the upcoming Colorado winter as well as connects them with a significant number of “hands on” service agencies that assist the Homeless Veteran in overcoming their homelessness. To prepare for the winter the EPCHVC provides the Homeless Veteran with clothing (jackets, jeans, shirts, boots, shoes, underwear, long johns, socks, gloves, scarves) – backpacks - personal care items – a hot noon meal – haircuts - flu shots – Hepatitis C testing – dental and foot exams - shelter and housing referrals (VA and Rocky Mountain Human Services) - counseling - VA Medical Care referrals - Veterans Administration benefits – job search support -- substance abuse services – assistance with DD-214 military service discharge documents – Salvation Army – Red Cross – Department of Human Services - Springs Rescue Mission.
VSS Supports the Stand Down:
VSS was one of 32 Social Aid Organizations providing support services and assistance during the Stand Down at the Cities Auditorium that was converted into a large multi-agency expo and services center to provide a wide variety of support services and assistance to Veterans and their families. Below are some photos taken during the Stand Down including a very busy Tami Donaldon-Barry, (Co Founder of VSS) working with Veterans and their Families during the day long event. For a larger image click on the thumbnails below:
The Transitional Housing Initiative (THI): (From EPCHVC)
Additionally, this year EPCHVC identified 12 Homeless Veteran Family Units (28 individuals) for a Transitional Housing Initiative (THI) specifically designed to immediately take a Homeless Veteran Family Unit off the street, remove several major barriers to improving the Family Unit’s living conditions and get the Family Unit into safe housing situations where they can be together as a family. For 30 days EPCHVC provides the Homeless Veteran Family a safe and secure place to stay, meals, transportation, assistance with navigating supporting agencies, and mentoring.
The THI was held this year at the Clarion Hotel in Colorado Springs. Below is a photo of the Clarion Hotel and a shot inside the upstairs community room that was used to hold meetings and provide dailiy meals to the Veterans and their families during the THI:
According to EPCHVC Chairman Joe Carlson, “For the 2015 year, EPCHVC experienced a 67% overall success rate in assisting Homeless Veterans and their families secure suitable housing situations". However this number was met and exceeded during the 2016 THI
Mentoring Program Support:
This year, Veterans Support Solutions agreed to work with RMHS, (Rocky Mountain Human Services) to assist EPCHVC for the recruitment of Ex-Military Personal Support Mentors to serve as “Extended Term” Mentors for the El Paso County Homeless Veteran Coalition’s THI (Transitional Housing Imitative) that is being run in parallel with the October Stand-down.
Our goal was to identify and recruit up to 10 mentors to serve as support persons to selected THI veterans who were participants in the THI program. The goal for the mentors was to help guide and walk the Vets and their family members through the steps necessary to navigate the THI program. This engagement might last for a period of 30-90 days depending on how long it takes to get the veteran housed through the THI program.
VISION: Connecting vulnerable Veterans experiencing homelessness with supportive relationships and resources that build hope, purpose, and community connections to allow investment in their own lives for a healthier future.
MISSION: The THI Mentor Program will provide a link between the culture of military service, connections of professional service providers, and the overall relationships of within the community to support Veterans involved with TRI in a successful transition to safe, stable permanent housing.