Volunteers of America Expands Veteran Services in Kentucky

by Devin Katayama on November 11, 2011

Kentucky’s Volunteers of America chapter has received a federal grant to expand services to help homeless and at-risk veterans find stable housing.

The new Supportive Services for Veterans and Families program works with veterans in Louisville, Lexington and Ashland as they struggle to find stable ground.

“I know being in the military was great and all but I had a lot of help in the military,” said Phonecia Carney (pictured left), Army veteran who found herself homeless 2003.

Volunteers of America helped stabilize her life, she said.

“I didn’t have to pay for housing or anything and so I didn’t really know the importance of paying my bills and stuff like that. And so they helped me gain the skills I needed to live.”

Carney’s story is unique, but an estimated 3,500 Kentucky veterans are at-risk of being homeless or have unstable housing, said Pat McKiernan (pictured second to left), homeless veteran advocate for Kentucky’s Department of Veterans Affairs.

KDVA has small funds that pay for services similar to the Supportive Services for Veterans and Families program, but it’s not nearly enough, he said. The department will help pay for a utility bill, or a small portion of rent, but it’s a temporary solution, he said.

There are several programs throughout Kentucky that help specific groups of veterans, such as soldiers who have recently returned from combat, veterans with disabilities, or those with children, said McKiernan.

“This particular program is unique in that it is focused on a group of veterans without all those specials conditions on it so it becomes more broadly applicable,” he said.

Services provided by Volunteers of America can be long lasting and the military doesn’t always provide adequate help, said Carney.

“I know they have the program for transitioning back to civilian Life, but that’s just to help you get a job and stuff like that, but it doesn’t really help you in living in the civilian world,” she said.

The program also connects at-risk veterans with counseling, educational and healthcare services. Congressman John Yarmuth, D-3, (pictured second to right) helped secure the $780,000 grant, which is good for one year.

Veterans affairs is one issue that all political parties can agree on, Yarmuth said.

The grant will employ 11 staff members and serve at least 200 veterans across the state.

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