A righteous undertaking is underway in the Tri-State.
We are speaking of the Veterans Emergency Fund program -- an ambitious endeavor to help veterans in need. This goal of helping veterans is being carried out by a new partnership featuring members of the local faith-based community, the Veterans Administration Outreach Center in Huntington and Shelter of Hope. The Ashland Area Ministerial Association (AAMA) detailed the program Tuesday. It was described as a program to assist with the emergency needs of low-income or fixed-income military veterans in the community.
Reporter Carly Carver detailed in Wednesday's edition how the fund seeks to fill a void in other veterans' assistance efforts, and “bridge the gap in services,” said Rev. Stanley McDonald of New Hope Baptist Church.
Shelter of Hope Executive Director Debbie Sivis said the non-profit — which provides emergency shelter and transitional housing in the FIVCO area — will act as a program manager for the Veterans Emergency Fund Program.
“We've already been able to help one person with the little bit of money we've already received,” Sivis said. “He had a problem with his car, it was going to cost well over $400 and he needed to get to his medical appointments and he didn't have that kind of money. A lot of these veterans are on fixed-income.”
We are very impressed with the establishment of this coalition and the work that has already gone in to helping our local veterans. Anne Robinson, the Homeless Outreach Specialist with the VA, is working to screen applicants as well as identify needs. Robinson said looking back over the last 12 months the VA was able to identify 100 veterans she had contact with who had some type of financial need that was not being met. Robinson said out of the 100 veterans, 50 of the needs could not be addressed with current community services available.
“A lot of resources are being cut,” Robinson said. “The VA used to have a veteran transport that used to pick veterans up from Ashland and take them to the VA. It's not available anymore.”
What is most impressive to us is that this project will be donor driven. In other words the coalition is seeking the public's help in making this assistance possible. Donations can be made to the AAMA, in care of Rev. Larry Sivis, Treasurer at First Chrisitan Church, located at 1930 Winchester Ave. The members of the AAMA are New Hope Baptist, Calvary Episcopal, First Presbyterian, First Nazarene, South Ashland United Methodist, First Methodist, First Christian, Holy Family Catholic Church, Beech Street Christian Church, King's Daughters Medical Center, and Community Presbyterian.
We encourage our readers to support this effort if they can. With the passing of the D-Day 75th anniversary on Thursday, we are all reminded of the countless sacrifices our veterans have made for our freedom and the well-being of our society. Supporting an effort to address unmet needs for veterans in the Tri-State area, in our view, is the least we can do.