A ONE-STOP FACILITY TO ADDRESS VETERANS’ NEEDS
By Glenn Waters
“What happened??” “Why??”
“He’s a VETERAN - something should be done.”
“They should just get help.”
How many times have you heard or thought these questions when seeing a homeless veteran, or heard the unfortunate news of a veteran suicide? Probably more often than you would like to admit. As a compassionate culture, we want to look at our veterans as heroes, capable, strong, but when we do not see them in this light it’s easy to look away. Veterans are heroes. Less than 1% of our population serves in the military today. Veterans are capable and strong, they prefer support over a handout, but they too need assistance when facing life’s struggles. Veterans are people too.
Yes, veterans struggle with the same life issues as everyone else: employment, housing, supporting a family, finding happiness in the everyday, financial issues, dealing with pain, and no medical coverage. However, what makes veterans’ struggles different is they bring an experience of military life, which is not always easily understood or adaptable to civilian way of life.
An exciting resource for our veterans is coming to Lawton, The Veteran Resource Center (VRC). The VRC will be the one-stop facility for veterans who do need support in addressing their struggles. The VRC will offer immediate short-term lodging while VA counselors and housing agencies apply and address their long-term housing needs. Other VRC counselors and professionals will work with veterans to identify their needs and the best resources to address their needs. Regardless of background, veteran and their families may come to rest, regroup, be assessed, and have access to the resources that support their needs. A holistic caring approach by a compassionate case manager may just be the best “battle buddy” a veteran needs to live the life they so desire and deserve. Whether it be getting off the streets, finding employment tools, a job, or emotional support, the Lawton VRC will be the one-stop facility to address those needs.
The positive impacts the VRC will have on veterans will carry over and assist in reducing the overall homelessness in Lawton. The VRC is the weapon of choice in the fight towards stamping out veteran homelessness in our community and reaching “functional zero.” When Lawton-Fort Sill’s VRC is operational, our compassionate community will have one more positive and impactful asset to support our community and honors our veterans.
The VRC is located on the corner of S.W. Fourth St. and S.W. B Ave., diagonally across the street from the Lawton Public Library. As we move forward in readying the VRC for operation we are asking for volunteers on the last Saturday of each month (June 27, July 25, and Aug. 29 from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.) to help with minor repairs and cleanup. If you have trade skills in construction or are handy in home repairs, your assistance is needed. We are especially looking for volunteers with experiences in drywall, spackling, prep for painting, painting, plumbing and electrical work. Help the whole time or stop by for as long as you can. Please bring your own protective gear and tools.
To volunteer, support, or donate to the Veterans Resource Center, please contact Jervis Jackson with the Lawton Housing Authority at 580-353-7397.