On July 4, many Americans may remember the phrase, “Home of the free because of the brave.”
The phrase invites us to remember U.S. fighting men and women both now serving and the veterans who served in the past.
But how many Americans realize that some veterans, and their families, are currently, or on the verge of being, homeless. The fact that the warriors who fought for the freedoms to be celebrated on July 4 may not have a home prompted the Veterans Administration to organize the Supportive Services for Veteran Families, or SSVF. The grant program is managed though Ki Bois Community Action in 24 counties in southeast Oklahoma.
Louise Musselman of Sallisaw is one the case managers for the area, and currently has a case load of 13 veterans and their families.
“It’s amazing to me how many veterans need help,” Musselman said.
Musselman recently helped a veteran, his wife and four children find a place to live in Muskogee.
Another case involved a 70-year-old veteran who was taking care of his 90-plus-year-old father. When the father died, the 70-year-old nearly lost his home. That case was concluded happily with the veteran now in his own home.
Musselman explained that many veterans who spent most of their adult lives in the military left the chores of daily living up to the military. When they retire or leave the service, they sometimes have no experience managing finances, housing, utilities, etc. Consequently some become homeless.
Musselman said the SSVF assistance is considered short term, but the program puts the veteran and his or her family in touch with other organizations that can provide long-term help.
The SSVF can provide short-term rent, utility payments, and some household goods, etc.
Musselman said, “We provide case management, and help them learn how to get out of the situation. We provide help with disability and social services, with substance abuse treatment, with money training and how to handle finances.”
To qualify for the services, the veteran must be the head of the household and meet other certain requirements. They must have identification, their DD214 (proof of service), their veteran’s health card, Social Security card and tribal ID if appropriate.
To be eligible for SSVF, veteran families must be low income and be either homeless or imminently at risk of homelessness.
SSVF provides the following supportive services:
-Supportive services to very low-income veteran families in or transitioning to permanent housing.
-Community outreach related to veteran’s needs and program goals.
-Community and veteran specific services and resources to benefit participant.
The program provides referral to:
-Job search and employment assistance
-Temporary financial assistance
-Housing search services
-Daily living services
-Health care services
-Personal financial planning services
-Fiduciary and payee services
No veteran will be turned away. If a veteran doesn’t qualify, they will be referred to other services or programs.
Musselman said the program does have limitations. It cannot provide the veteran and family with some simple items, like a coffee pot, a lamp, a shower curtain.
“But we are more than happy to take donations,” Musselman said.
Veterans really appreciate hygiene items and simple things like a notebook and pens.
Anyone who would like more information about the program or who would like to make a donation may contact Musselman at her office in Muskogee at 918-681-7525 or on her cell phone at 918-931-1474.
And, if a homeless or near homeless veteran needs help but has no transportation, Musselman said, “Our staff will go to them if there are transportation issues.”
Musselman concluded, “We do everything we can to help. It is very rewarding.”
Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director
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