Veterans Northeast Outreach Center (VNEOC) launches Voices for Veterans Campaign

Veterans Northeast Outreach Center (VNEOC) launches Voices for Veterans Campaign

Serving southern NH and northeastern MA, including MetroWest and the Cape, Veterans Northeast Outreach Center (VNEOC) has launched Voices for Veterans to help bridge funding gaps that result from COVID-19.

“The pandemic has stressed our entire funding model with money that had been earmarked for us instead diverted to other areas of need in the communities we serve,” said VNEOC’s John Ford, director, outreach & development. “Historically, we have never formally asked for assistance from the communities we serve, but that is just not sustainable.”

The fundraising goal for Voices for Veterans is $100,000 by the end of December, 2020.

“The need is urgent, which is why we have launched this campaign, which includes GivingTuesday on December 1,” he added. “Our hope is to create a synergy among community members where individual gifts serve as leverage to encourage others.”

Founded in 1985, VNEOC provides basic food and housing, advocacy, counseling, peer support, case management, employment and education to veterans and their families. These programs and services, explained Ford, are part of “a comprehensive approach aimed at self-sufficiency.”

“The veterans we serve are in transition from unstable to stable environments,” Ford said. “We offer a lot of support in the beginning of their journey with us, but then scale it back through time until they are able to manage their daily lives on their own.”

According to Rachel Hagen, who manages VNEOC’s Transition in Place (TIP) program, the agency’s services are designed to address root causes of the issues that have destabilized veterans’ lives. VNEOC’s services, she explained, work only when participants are motivated to succeed.

“We do not offer handouts,” she said. “In my program, for instance, our role is to help veterans set goals and develop the skills needed to achieve them.”

As veterans  progress through TIP, they assume more of the costs associated with their housing. 

“They then transition out of the program,” she said.

In looking ahead, Ford said he hopes that a public ask for support will help “rally the communities” served by VNEOC.

“We can’t forget our veterans, many of whom face a complex array of circumstances when they return to civilian life ” he said. “They served us, so we must do all we can to serve them. We need their voices to ‘be heard,’ which is our campaign’s rallying cry.”

To contribute to Voices for Veterans click here.

VNEOC helps veteran “one step, one day at a time”

VNEOC helps veteran “one step, one day at a time”

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.