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No funds for homeless vets

Program eliminated in King

By Robert Cloud

A program for homeless veterans in King will close later this year.

Federal funding was eliminated for the Veteran Housing and Recovery Programs (VHRPs) at King and Union Grove, according to a July 14 letter from state Veterans Affairs Secretary Daniel Zimmerman.

Zimmerman said federal funding will end in September.

The Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs will fund the program only through December 2017.

“WDVA solely funding King and Grove VHRPs beyond December 2017 is not feasible,” Zimmerman said.

The Wisconsin Veterans Home at King houses 19 veterans in its homeless program. Union Grove has 28 homeless veterans.

The VHRPs will no longer accept new admissions and will begin transitioning program participants into new housing, Zimmerman said.

Jesse Cuff, the Waupaca County veterans service officer, said he was sad to see the VHRP end.

He noted that Wisconsin’s program for homeless veterans is more than 20 years old and has been successful at reintegrating veterans back into the community.

“The program helps put these veterans back on their feet,” Cuff said. “It gives them a hand up.”

Since 1994, the VHRP in King has provided a stable environment for homeless veterans, treatment for mental health issues and drug addiction, job training and education, and assistance with finding work and affordable housing.

Noting Waupaca County has been negotiating with the state Veterans Affairs office to relocate the VHRP to Lakeview Manor, Cuff said he did not believe that project could move forward without state and federal funding.

Waupaca County Chairman Dick Koeppen said he was notified Friday, July 14, that the recovery program for homeless veterans lost its federal funding.

He also learned the WDVA will be withdrawing its offer to lease Lakeview Manor.

“Maybe something can be done,” Koeppen said, regarding the loss of an essential state and federal program to serve veterans in need. “It hurts me deeply.”

In his letter, Zimmerman said Veterans Affairs will seek to expand its Veterans Outreach and Recovery Program (VORP) to provide services to homeless veterans.

“Under VORP, recovery specialists work as case managers, supported by a clinical coordinator, to ensure that homeless veterans have access to community-based stable housing and proper medical and mental health treatment,” Zimmerman said. “Case managers then follow up to ensure that the treatment is continual and effective.”

VORP staff will work with veteran service organizations and nonprofit partners to provide housing, food, clothing, education, employment and treatment.

“I will personally ensure that each veteran is compassionately placed and cared for during this situation,” Zimmerman said.

When asked about the details of replacing the services currently offered by VHRPs, Carla Vigue, the WDVA’s communications director, told the Waupaca County Post there will be no blanket solution that covers every veteran.

“We will work to meet the needs of each individual veteran,” Vigue said.

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