When veteran Jennifer Bynum successfully completed the Transition in Place (TIP) program earlier this summer at Veterans Northeast Outreach Center (VNEOC), her reward was a home to call her own in her native Texas.
“We helped her create a transition and travel plan that resulted in a home purchase so she could be closer to her family,” said Rachel Hagen, who manages TIP. “Jennifer did all the work — we just helped her navigate the process.”
This work, according to Bynum, included self-care.
“I needed to realize that self-care is paramount with mental illness,” she said. “I needed to build a safe and calm environment. VNEOC helped show me the difference between unhealthy and healthy choices in all facets of my life.”
Her time spent in TIP, she said, was an emotional one.
“It’s hard to grow and go through mental illness,” she added.
Noting Bynum was a participant in TIP for 14 months, Hagen said the program is not “a homeless shelter.”
“We focus on housing, employment, education, mental and medical health,” she said. “We help veterans build their networks for social support, too. We help them get on track.”
In TIP, veterans are expected to assume the lease for their apartment within 6 to 12 months.
“Jennifer worked hard to move through the program,” added Hagen.
According to Bynum, a big part of her struggle was accepting help.
“I had to learn to trust and rely on people’s experiences to help me grow,” she said. “The program showed me how to dive into my short-term and long-term goals for health and healthy living one step and one day at a time.”
In summing up her experience with VNEOC, Bynum said the staff never left [her] side in good or bad days.
“What I needed was loving healers who were professional and driven,” she said. “I could not be more grateful.”
Serving Essex, Middlesex and Barnstable Counties (MA) and Rockingham and Hillsborough Counties (NH), VNEOC provides basic food and housing, advocacy as an Accredited VSO, counseling, peer support, case management, employment and education to veterans and their families.