Spark Grants - Veterans Affairs
Congratulations to our Spark Grant recipients for Veterans Affairs:
Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley was awarded a $25,000 Spark Grant for the Military Share: Food Access for Veterans, a new program that will address the food insecurity needs of veterans to promote health and financial stability. Through partnerships with three local veterans’ organizations, Second Harvest Food Bank (SHFB) will provide 150 veterans with a monthly box of food that includes 30 pounds of vegetables, fruit, meat, and grains. Veterans will volunteer for this program by packing boxes as a team at the SHFB warehouse and directly distributing the boxes to veterans.
Lehigh Valley Health Network was awarded $12,500 for its Military and Veteran Resource/Information Center. The center, now renovated in in the former School of Nursing building at 1628 Chew Street has been established meet a three-fold mission: provide military and veterans with services that improve (1) medical care eligibility and enrollment; (2) access to care at locations of the patient’s choosing; and (3) navigation across complex government and private sector systems.
Victory House of Lehigh Valley was awarded a 5,000 Spark Grant for their Veteran Aftercare Services Program which provides medical and case management services, including mental health and substance abuse counseling, to homeless veterans who have successfully discharged to self-sufficiency.
Lehigh Valley Military Affairs Council was awarded $5,000 for the LVMAC Veterans Homelessness Programs which provide financial assistance for transitional shelter and traditional outreach programs that support the recovery of homeless veterans. It also helps to coordinate the various services available through local and government agencies.
Equi-librium was awarded $2,500 for the Horsemanship for Heroes program that is a therapeutic riding/driving program where horsemanship skills are taught to meet the physical, mental or emotional needs of service men and women who suffer from PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury or other combat-related injuries.
GET INFORMED. Learn more about veterans affairs programs by viewing the five grant program videos. These organizations are tackling this important issue in the Lehigh Valley in a creative and collaborative way...
MAKE A GIFT | 50th Anniversary Spark Grant Initiatives for Veterans Affairs
Gifts in the form of a check can be made payable to the Spark Grants - Veterans Affairs and mailed to The Lehigh Valley Community Foundation, 840 West Hamilton Street, Suite 310, Allentown, PA 18101. Gifts can also be made via credit card by clicking the PayPal 'Donate' button below. A PayPal account is not required to make an online gift to the Fund. Gifts to the fund will be used to support the Community Foundation's funding of organizations in Northampton and Lehigh Counties who provide mental and behavioral health services and education.
In Focus: Veterans Affairs in the Lehigh Valley
The Lehigh Valley Community Foundation (LVCF) announced the recipients of $50,000 in Spark Grants for veterans affairs programs at the Foundation’s program, “In Focus: Veterans Affairs in the Lehigh Valley,” on December 4, at PBS39, that featured Congressman Charlie Dent (PA-15), chairman of the Congressional Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies who was beamed in from the nation’s capital in Washington D.C. via satellite. World War II Veteran Major Nathan Kline, United States Air Force, and Veteran Nicholas Ward who served in the United States Army during Operation Iraqi Freedom also spoke.
More than 70 people attended the program that sponsored by Embassy Bank for the Lehigh Valley. It was the sixth and final in the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation’s 50th anniversary Spark Grants celebrations. James R. Bartholomew, executive vice president and senior lending officer, Embassy Bank For the Lehigh Valley, shared the Spark Grant videos produced by the finalists as part of the awareness campaign. See all the photos from the event on the LVCF's Flickr Album.
Thank you to our Spark Sponsor
More than 50,000 veterans plus their families live and work in Lehigh and Northampton counties. Despite the heavy concentration of veterans in the Valley, there is no local, major military installation nearby on which serving military guard and reservist families can rely while serving or to answer the questions and problems which arise upon and after leaving service. A study commissioned by the state found that Pennsylvania has an inconsistent provisioning of services and benefits, and an arcane and ineffective bureaucracy.
MAKING THE CASE | VETERANS AFFAIRS
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, returning veterans struggle to overcome combat experiences leading to mental health issues and financial instability. These military service members experience trauma in the form of combat injuries, repeated deployments and relocations, along with military sexual violence. As a result of this stress, many veterans in the United States are homeless, mentally ill, and struggle with substance abuse.
With a lack of proper health care services these community members struggle to overcome their wartime experiences. The Lehigh Valley community is home to over 50,000 veterans some of which are struggling to overcome some of these issues. By sparking change, the community can begin to transform the lives of deserving veterans.
WHY DOES THIS ISSUE MATTER?
By one annual count, at least 9 to 12 homeless veterans are living in the Lehigh Valley.
The Department of Veterans Affairs offers more veteran services to surrounding urban areas, than to the Lehigh Valley– despite being the third largest metropolitan area in the state with one of the largest and heaviest concentrations of veterans. http://www.lv-mac.org/
In the United States, 11% of the homeless adult population is veterans, 50% have serious mental illness, and 70% battle substance abuse. http://nchv.org/index.php/news/media/background_and_statistics/
In Lehigh County, homeless veterans are as young as 21 and as old as 78. http://www.mcall.com/news/local/allentown/mc-allentown-hope-for-veterns-20150601-story.html
In 2016, the Lehigh Valley Homeless Veterans Task Force had on average 20 veterans in their system. http://www.wfmz.com/news/lehigh-valley/lehigh-county-stands-up-for-homeless-veterans/21481618
Every day, approximately 22 American veterans commit suicide, totaling over 8,000 veteran suicides each year. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2015/02/04/the-missing-context-behind-a-widely-cited-statistic-that-there-are-22-veteran-suicides-a-day/?utm_term=.253bc2e80ba5
In 2014, Pennsylvania had 364,219 veterans between the ages of 18 and 64, which was 4.6 percent of the comparable population in the state. http://www.workstats.dli.pa.gov/Documents/Veterans_Packet.pdf
In 2016, there were 530 Pennsylvania veterans claiming Unemployment Compensation benefits. http://www.workstats.dli.pa.gov/Documents/Veterans_Packet.pdf
In 2014, the unemployment rate for veterans was 5.7 %. http://www.workstats.dli.pa.gov/Documents/Veterans_Packet.pdf
In the United States, 51% of individual homeless veterans have disabilities. http://nchv.org/index.php/news/media/background_and_statistics/
Stats from our grant applications:
There are 50,000 veterans living in the Lehigh Valley and surrounding areas. According to the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, twenty-two veterans are committing suicide daily in our country.
4,500 households in the Lehigh Valley region who have an identified veteran in the household over the age of 60.
Local homeless shelters consistently report that a large percentage of the homeless men served each year are veterans. In previous years, these veterans were primarily older, but now about 50% of homeless veterans are under 50 years of age.
Over 300,000 (20%) of the Veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression; one in 10 Veterans is disabled, often times by injuries sustained in combat.
In its 2016 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development statistics indicate that nationally, 9.2 percent of homeless adults were veterans
In the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, approximately 1 in 10 soldiers seen in the Veterans Administration demonstrate problems with alcohol or other drugs.
According to the National Council for Behavioral Health, 30% of active duty and reserve military personnel deployed to Middle Eastern countries can be diagnosed with a behavioral health concern that requires treatment
According to the VA, more than 1.5 million vets sought help for PTSD and other mental health problems in 2014, including over 536,000 for substance abuse, and 535,000 for PTSD (of those, over 141,000 were recent veterans).
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, there are clear links between veteran substance abuse, depression, and suicide. Furthermore, "In one study that involved roughly 600 veterans who were deployed to either Afghanistan or Iraq, 39% of the vets were screened and showed positive for probable alcohol abuse." finishing the program.
Feeding America estimates that 20% of people served through the network are veterans or have a veteran in their household. Locally, Second Harvest Food Bank of Lehigh Valley and Northeast Pennsylvania (SHFB)
Services for the homeless is a critical need to the Bethlehem community. According to the Lehigh Valley Coalition on Affordable Housing’s most recent Lehigh Valley Shelter Census (for 2010), there were a documented 2,441 homeless men, women and children who were housed in one of the regions emergency shelters during 2010. Important to Victory House’s target population, adult males represented 40.4% (951) of the total homeless population served during the reporting period – an increase of 6.6% over 2008.
In 2016, Victory House provided services to 108 homeless males (46 homeless veterans) for a total of 10,797 shelter nights and 26,820 meals served.