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Posted: December 12, 2016 11:42 a.m.

Have you ever thought … How we can serve some of those who served us?

A month ago today, we, as a nation, observed Veteran’s Day. Each year we set this day aside to say thank you to all who served in our Armed Forces for their service. We are a free and great nation for what they did for each of us. But now there is a challenge to us to give a hand up to some that now struggle with homelessness.

The sad truth is that a veteran is 50 percent more likely to be homeless than the general population. More than 12 percent of the homeless in our land are veterans.  And it is without pride that I point out that our state places second in the number of homeless veterans.

We now have an opportunity in our community to reach out and deal with this issue in a very proactive way. Action Ministries opened the Piedmont Regional Office here in Covington two years ago. They are offering a way to help veterans facing homeless through a program called Action Serves. Action Ministries has been dealing with homelessness across North Georgia for the past 53 years.

Action Serves connects the veteran in need with the resources of the Veterans Administration. Seventy-five percent of the funding will come from the government and the other 25 percent from Action Ministry and its supporters. The goal is get the veteran and his or her family into a stable housing situation within 30 days. A professional case manager will work with the veteran. for there may be other issues that will need to dealt with such as a need for employment, medical issues, substance abuse, and the stress that has come with being homeless.

The Regional Director for Action Ministries is Tamara Richardson. The office is located at the First United Methodist Church of Covington. For more information, you may call 678-280-4161 or by Email at trichardson@actionministries.com.  

I urge you if you know of a veteran who if either homeless or is in a situation that could lead to that crises to get them to contact Action Ministries. Progress is being made, according to Kelley Henderson, COO of Action Ministries, since 2011 we have reduced the number of homeless veterans in the Metro Atlanta area by fifty percent. But the battle is far from over.  We must continue to reach out to serve those who served our nation.

To start the process the veteran will need a photo ID, a Social Security Card, a Birth Certificate, and proof of income. Going forward the applicant will need the form DD214 and documentation of need. Documentation could include notice of eviction, late payment notice of rent or mortgage, utility bills, and other household bills. The program is designed to help those already homeless or in danger of becoming so. If the Veteran in need is in doubt of his or her qualification for the program, they should start the process to see.

If you agree that we should do something to reach the Veterans who are dealing with homelessness, there are several actions you can take. One is help us get the word out about this new resource in our county. I know if I found myself facing such a crises, I would rather be told many times where help may be found than not know.

Another way you can make a difference is to support the work of Action Ministries. The local agency must come up with the twenty five percent matching funds needed to qualify for the funds from the Veterans Administration.

As the local office is able to match Veterans with the housing they need, there are usually other needs. For example, a Kitchen Kit might be needed to start up housekeeping in the new home. Or maybe some help with furnishings. This is particularly true for those who are homeless and lost all they have in the process.

Another action could be to give a gift of hope. A letter or note of inspiration could help the client trying to turn the page in their story to a new day.

It is one thing to fly the flag in honor of our Veterans. And to say “Thank you for your service” as important as these actions may be. And still another to make sure that all those who served our nation will have a place to live.  Being in second place among all fifty states in the number of homeless veterans is not something to be proud of. Let us join with Action Ministry to start to reduce the number of homeless, one Veteran at a time.

 

B. Wiley Stephens is a retired United Methodist Minister and author who now resides in Covington.

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