New Partnership Aimed at Helping Homeless Veterans

Local 22 (mychamplainvalley.com) recently reported on a collaboration between the Supportive Services for Veteran Families Program and the Vermont State Police to aid in the effort to end veteran homelessness in Vermont:

In the United States, it’s estimated that more than 200 thousand veterans are homeless on any given night. More than 400 thousand veterans will experienced homelessness throughout the year. But several Vermont agencies are working to reduce those rates.

At the Williston Vermont State Police barracks, Troopers are part of a new partnership aimed at helping homeless veterans in the state of Vermont. It’s about establishing relationships and getting people in need off the streets.

“It’s hard to imagine something more disorienting than being homeless,” said Dr. Tom Simpatico. In Vermont, 9.1 percent of veterans are homeless, a rate higher than the national average. “For people who have served their country, and put themselves in peril for this country, I think you can argue that there is an even more compelling imperative to reach out and make sure they are well provided for,” said Simpatico.

Simpatico is project director for Supportive Services for Veteran Families Program. Administered through the University of Vermont, it’s teamed up with Vermont State Police to help keep numbers down, “Law enforcement officials have a natural opportunity to come across people who are having difficulties,” added Simpatico. “The troopers are very experienced at interacting with all types of people, whether it be someone experiencing a mental health crisis, or someone just in need, down on their luck,” stated Lt. James Whitcomb, Williston Barracks Commander for the Vermont State Police.

The groups worked together to create resource cards, that troopers will hand-out to struggling veterans. “It’s one of the many tools we can carry, several phone numbers for various agencies, it’s a very simple process,” said Whitcomb.

Troopers at the Williston barracks have had the cards for a few months now. State Police and the Veterans Group say they’re seeing results, but it’s about acting fast when they see someone in trouble. Simpatico said, “The longer a person or their family is homeless, the more likely, or harder it is to move out of homelessness.” Whitcomb added, “It’s a no-brainer for us. We can get involved in helping someone out, relying information to them that’s going to help them and their families, it’s a great fit.”

The overall goal of the program and partnership is to send the resource cards to all Vermont State Police barracks throughout the state. Leaders say they plan to launch a new website in the next few months that will feature even more resources and information than on the cards.

To view the full report, including video coverage, click here.