Regional Veteran's Benefit Centers Recieve Part of $15 Million Federal Grant

Jun 20, 2012

The US Department of Labor’s Homeless Veteran Reintegration Program has  awarded $15 million to veterans benefit programs across the country, including one-and-a-half million in Massachusetts alone. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard took a look at how the grants will affect the region.

Area shelters and service centers received up to $300,000 each to help with job training programs to get veterans back to work. Junior Ortiz, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Veterans Employment and Training Service at the US Department of Labor said that veterans often face a series of problems that must be dealt with before the job training can begin.

Ortiz said that the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program will give social services the tools to put confidence back into those who have fallen on hard times.

Jack Downing, President and CEO of Leeds, Massachusetts-based Soldier On, an organization that received the maximum of $300,000 for veterans job training, gives an example of how the federal dollars could assist a individual.

Money can also be used to support housing programs and all areas of care to help the underserved obtain and retain employment.

Under the grant, Soldier On is required to serve 110 people with the funds. For Soldier On the grant serves as a renewal of funding the organization received three years ago. The Western Massachusetts based organization is using the dollars, along with a $1 million dollar grant from the New York State Division of Veterans Affairs to expand their support work in New York state in connection with local social services from Columbia County up through Plattsburgh, including the Capital Region, served by Albany Stratton VAMC.  

Awards were distributed to private and public organizations across the country. Veterans benefit agencies in Hartford, Connecticut, Worcester and Springfield, Massachusetts, Rochester, NY, and Providence, RI, are among the 64 locations receiving a piece of the of the $15 million  Homeless Veteran Reintegration Program grant.