For some military veterans in Pennsylvania, coming home after service is not the end of the fight but the beginning. Many struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder. Others have difficulty finding a job. Some ultimately end up homeless.
But there is help. The Diocese of Allentown, through its Catholic Charities services, provides assistance to homeless veterans, their families and veterans who are at risk of losing their homes.
Pamela Russo, Executive Director of Catholic Charities said, “Our veterans cannot be forgotten simply because their tour of duty is over. We see the need of our veterans in our community every day, and the SSVF program helps to meet that need.”
Serving all five counties of the Allentown Diocese, the Catholic Charities Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program assists veterans who lack the resources to maintain housing stability. The program accepts veterans of all ages who have very low incomes, and are either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Catholic Charities helps approximately 1,000 veterans of all faiths through various Federal, State and County grants annually.
A central component of the SSVF program is helping veterans find permanent housing and secure employment. The program also assists veterans with disabilities obtain a livable income.
Catholic Charities works with churches and community groups to assemble teams to sponsor veterans and families on a case-by-case basis. The top priority for the team is finding new or better employment for the veteran.
In a recent case, Catholic Charities helped a Navy veteran, who served from 2003-2007, begin to turn his life around after his fourth DUI. The veteran was staying in temporary housing after serving a two-year sentence. The SSVF program introduced him to an Air Force veteran, who served in Vietnam, who was willing to provide housing to someone who could help him make repairs around his house. Today, the younger veteran is living with the Vietnam veteran, attending AA meetings and looking for job opportunities in the energy field.
In addition to helping veterans secure housing and employment, the SSVF program also provides services to help with rent, utilities, moving expenses, emergency support, transportation and child care. The SSVF program has service locations in Allentown, Reading and Pottsville. For more information about the SSVF program visit www.catholiccharityad.org.
Catholic Charities across the Commonwealth serve over 500,000 Pennsylvanians each year, providing housing, food, clothing, counseling and employment assistance to those in need.