The veterans housing project in Trumbull County and veterans resource center in Mahoning County will provide those who served the country and struggled to re-acclimate afterward with the help they need to become productive citizens.
A $960,000 grant awarded to Family and Community Services by the Department of Veterans Affairs will be used to provide market-rate housing assistance for homeless veterans in Trumbull County. Trumbull's grant was one of 38 projects in 25 states approved by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The goal is to end homelessness among veterans across the U.S. by 2015.
The local program will pay for leases obtained by veterans. They are then to transition into independent living within a year.
During the transition, the veterans will receive the behavioral, vocational and financial counseling needed for independence. The Trumbull Metropolitan Housing Authority and Trumbull County Mental Health and Recovery Board are part of the project.
Twenty veterans at a time will be housed. As one veteran transitions to self-sufficiency, another veteran will be admitted into the program. This process will continue for at least three years.
It's unfortunate that an earlier attempt - a 114-room former Knights Inn in Liberty that was to be converted into the Camp Victory transitional housing for veterans - did not succeed. Better late than never, though.
Meanwhile, Youngstown State University is in the midst of raising $1.25 million for a veterans resource center to help veterans transition into college students. A new building would house the YSU Office of Veterans Affairs and serve soldiers who leave their military careers and seek education to commence a new career.
The need is great. In 2008 there were 1,700 veterans in northeast Ohio in need of housing or other help. Some sleep in missions, under bridges or on sidewalks.
Many veterans return from duty suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, depression and other conditions that make it difficult to attend school or maintain a home. Simply providing homes and tuition is often insufficient. Guidance on holding a job and maintaining the home and guidance on completing an education greatly increases the chances for success.
It's important for a community to take care of its veterans after they have defended our way of life. But it's much more important that a community provide veterans with the tools that enable them to take care of themselves.
Trumbull and Mahoning counties are heading in that direction.