As we commemorate Veterans Day today, November 11, we’d like to shed some light on why our service members are often more at risk of becoming homeless, some of the current issues they are facing, and what we at CaringWorks are doing to help. Veterans make up about 6% of the population of the United States but 8 percent of the country’s homeless population according to The Military Times.
Our Program Manager for RISE VA, Marshall Marrotte, has spent over a decade working with veterans to overcome homelessness. For the past two years at Caring Works, he has helped place chronically homeless veterans in permanent, supportive housing. Marshall has a unique understanding of veteran homelessness and a heart to empower vets with long-term solutions.
So, what does the face of homelessness look like for veterans in Atlanta? “Older vets, those who served in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, tend to be the ones we see that are homeless,” explains Marshall. “They have become part of that culture and may have resigned themselves to it. They’ve been homeless for longer and have a harder time obtaining services. If they are younger, it seems like they are more easily able to connect with services and are eligible for much more.”
The pandemic has also added extra stress. “Loneliness and isolation are especially hard on folks who are already prone to mental health issues like PTSD,” says Marshall. “And many veterans suffer from a variety of health issues and are often immunocompromised, so they have to be extra careful.”The Caring Works initiative that Marshall helps oversee is part of RISE (Resiliency, Independence, Self-Sufficiency, and Empowerment). This supportive housing program offers service men and women over the age of 18 with a documented disability their own place to live, the tools they need to achieve independence, and the time they need to reach their goals. It includes 30 single-bedroom apartments in Stone Mountain, GA where vets are supported with much more than a home. They also learn new skills, develop reliable sources of income, and often increase their ability to contribute to their community.
For example, Reginald is a vet who came to CaringWorks having just completed a substance abuse program. After being placed in his new home, Reginald worked construction part-time and then eventually went back to school. Today, he is a certified substance abuse counselor and the veteran outreach coordinator at a local rehabilitation center. “Reginald is saving money and looking into VA loans to buy his first home,” says Marshall. “We are so excited to see him getting ready to step out on his own.”
This Veterans Day, if you’d like to help CaringWorks support those who have served our country, you can donate gift cards, and household items such as toilet paper, paper towels, and cleaning supplies or make a donation to our RISE VA program. Contact us at INFO@CARINGWORKSINC.ORG to learn more. You can donate here.