Veteran One-Stop Center of Western New York
Anita, a 32-year-old Post-9/11 Navy veteran, came in the office seeking assistance with securing an internship for her Associates Degree in Medical Billing from Genesee Community College. She reported that she has tried applying to several places in Batavia for an internship, however; she was denied. At the recommendation of the Mental Health Association of Genesee & Orleans, we had Jessica contact the Genesee County Mental Health Department. We assisted her in securing an interview for the veteran for June 23rd. The next day, Jessica came into the office and informed me that she was accepted and will start her internship on July 7th. She was informed that there was a strong possibility of it leading to full-time employment.
The Veterans One-stop Center of WNY’s Batavia office participated in training with the VA Police, NYS Veterans Defense Program, and the Batavia Police Department on Veterans issues and available services. As a direct result of this training, two weeks later on 28 March we received a phone call from the Batavia Police. They had observed a veteran named Frederick sleeping on a bench near the police station and wanted to know if they could bring him over.
Upon meeting Frederick we learned that he had started a job that day but was still two weeks away from his first paycheck. He had no housing, no transportation, no possessions but the clothes on his back, and no way to eat until his first paycheck came in. We immediately started processing him for SSVF, and we made contact with two local church groups who provided two weeks of temporary housing in a motel as well as gift cards for food. We got him several sets of clothes from the Salvation Army, and our Veterans Advocate, Jim, donated a spare bicycle to help him get back and forth to his job. Today, he has completed the SSVF process and is waiting for the check to be mailed to his landlord to get him into permanent housing. He is paying his own way and doing well, and still rides his new bicycle to work every day.
Vernon has been coming to the Veterans One-stop Center since 2013. He recently admitted that he had been struggling with the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress. He reported that he had attempted suicide several months prior, and was currently ‘only’ dealing with ideation. After evaluating the current threat Vernon posed to himself, his Care Manager secured a commitment to not harm himself and to attend PTS treatments. VOCWNY staff then helped him enroll as WWP alumni. Shortly after we called the resource center and they were able to get him to be sent to Boston General Hospital for 12 days specializing in PTSD treatment. At this program he will receive therapy, as well as a reevaluation of his medications. He will also get to attend a Boston Red Socks game. He mentioned, “He was really thankful for the work of the VOC of WNY and the Wounded Warrior Project. He leaves 8 May 2016 and comes back on the 20th.
Paul is a 27-year-old Operation Iraqi Freedom combat Veteran who was introduced to us directly by the team at the VA Medical Center’s Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Program (SARP). The Veterans One-stop Center’s strong relationship with the local VA Medical Center has allowed up to move upstream and engages the Warriors early, rather than waiting until too late. We made initial contact with Paul the day prior to his discharge and arranged for him to get directly to the One-stop Center upon discharge. From here we were able to enroll him in Wounded Warrior Program, e-Benefits, screen him for assistance with a legal issue, and get him started with Operation Homefront. Paul is continuing to work without Legal Team and our Peer Support program. We are assisting his Emotional Health and Well-being and Housing Stability as he awaits permanent housing.
Clarence is a 49-year-old, 24 year Army National Guard veteran who has worked with the Veterans One-stop Center for several years to receive assistance with legal, housing, financial, and mental health concerns. Clarence is currently attending Erie Community College (ECC) in order to gain skills, which will allow him to maintain a better paying job. However, Clarence came into bad standing for failure to pay his tuition. Although he was not able to receive any additional veteran assistance through the VA, the State, or the School, the Veterans One-stop Center was able to advocate for his continued enrollment. ECC and veteran agreed to a promissory note and payment schedule to ensure veteran remains enrolled in school.
Carlene is a 24-year-old, single black male who presented at the Veterans One-stop Center of WNY in August of 2015 as a literally homeless Veteran. He was housed at Altamont Transitional Housing for Veterans. Carlene is a veteran of the United States Army and served as a Human Resources Specialist. He was discharged in 2013 under honorable conditions.
At the time of his intake, Carlene was not ready to pursue independent housing due to a lack of income and exacerbations of his mental health issues. VOCWNY recommended to him that he explore filing for VA disability for a back injury and his mental health issues. Working with the Veterans One-stop Center of WNY and the VA, he filed for his disability and was recently awarded a 100% rating. This award allowed him to be able to independently afford his own apartment and establish his own financial independence this month. Carlene is currently exploring the idea of starting college courses in the fall of 2016.
Clarence is an Army National Guard Veteran who served from 1984-2014 with a deployment to Afghanistan in 2008. He first entered the VOCWNY in October 2013. Clarence was going through a divorce and was staying at an emergency shelter. He was employed as a van driver. With collaboration with Healthcare for Homeless Veterans, Clarence was placed in transitional housing. He originally had been working with us to find permanent housing, but his original housing allowed for up to 2 years, so he decided to stay his term there. Clarence began working with Goodwill to find additional employment and was successfully employed at Red Robin in November 2013. In the interim Clarence also utilized our legal services. He returned to VOCWNY in September as his term with the transitional housing was ending and was successfully housed with a HUD/VASH voucher in October 2015. Clarence is now back in school and working toward his future.
Army Veteran Frank served 8 years in the Army with a deployment to Iraq. Frank first came into the VOCWNY in July 2015 seeking help with employment. Frank had been unemployed for a few months and had been actively seeking employment. Frank had training in HVAC and had been previously employed as a HVAC technician. Upon intake with his care manager, Matt; Frank was referred to Goodwill for job development. In September a Buffalo HVAC company, 72 degrees, hired Frank as a technician. He is excited about getting back to work utilizing his trade.
Army veteran Theodore first came into the Veterans One-stop Center of WNY in May 2015 to begin working out a number of issues he was facing. In July, Theodore entered the VA Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility in Bath, NY. After his completion of the program, Theodore returned to the VOC of WNY at the beginning of August with his VASH voucher and had found an apartment, but needed assistance with the security deposit. He received assistance with his security deposit through the SSVF program and moved into his new place in mid-August. Theodore attended the Stand Down in mid-August where he met VOC of WNY board member, Harry, and VOC of WNY employee, Adam. Theodore was looking for any leads where he could get furniture for his new place. Harry donated a sofa, couch, and TV, and Adam donated various furniture items including a sleeper sofa, table, and children’s toys. Due to collaborative efforts, Theodore now has a furnished and stable home for his children to come and stay with him now that he has completed his inpatient rehabilitation.
At our local Hire Our Heroes event on 18 June 2015, our Community Relations Liaison, Ed Garris, met Craig Hudson. A young Marine Corps combat Veteran who had recently relocated to WNY after being discharged, Craig had been unable to find meaningful work and was unemployed. Impressed with the way Craig presented himself, and the insight he demonstrated regarding his own difficulties in transitioning out of the military, Ed asked if Craig would be interested in applying for a spot on his Outreach & Engagement team. After Craig’s interview, it was clear that he was the right fit for the job. His passion made it an easy decision, and luckily Craig accepted the offer. Craig is now busy familiarizing himself with the WNY Veterans community and is looking forward to participating as part of the VOC of WNY team—and we couldn’t be happier.
Army veteran Margaret had first visited us in mid-May, and returned in June to begin addressing some of the many issues that she was currently facing. Margaret had relocated to WNY after leaving an abusive relationship in Central New York. She spent time at the VA Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility. From the beginning it was clear that Margaret was incredibly motivated to take control of her life back. While a patient at the VA, she utilized her day passes to hold down a part-time job at a clothing store that was within walking distance from the hospital. After her successful completion of the program, she began staying at a transitional housing facility in the city of Buffalo. She was looking to get back into the job market on a full-time basis and looking for a career rather than a part-time job, so we made a referral to Dress for Success, a local group that provides free outfits, make-up, and hair consultations to women seeking employment as well as additional job hunting support. Margaret quickly found employment in a call center, but her biggest barrier was proving to be transportation. Her motorcycle and her car were still in CNY, but she had an outstanding traffic ticket fine and needed her car inspection. We worked with the Buffalo Veterans Treatment Court mentor group to get Margaret’s fine paid and her license reinstated at the end of June. In July, Margaret was able to move out of Cornerstone Manor into her own apartment. Margaret was a participant in the SSVF program and received temporary financial assistance to help her attain stable housing. We sent Margaret to her new home with a bag of donated cleaning supplies. Moving forward, we are sure that Margaret will become an even greater success story. She has already expressed interest in getting involved in the community through Dog Tags Niagara, and as she continues to stabilize we are sure that she will give back. Now that she is stably housed and has a benefits claim pending with the VA, Margaret is looking forward to what’s next.