Keeping local veterans from being homeless in the country they served is the idea behind a $500,000 federal grant, and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin met with local vets Monday to see how the funds were helping.
Local vets can get money for an apartment, counseling to get sober or help with other personal challenges.
“Our job is to get them (vets) housed quickly and then we surround them with services, so going forward, hopefully we will break the homeless cycle that the veteran has experienced,” Chestnut Health Systems case manager Stacey Kwiatkowski said.
“I don’t look at them as an organization. I look at them... as angels and Stacey... is my guardian angel,” said U.S. Navy veteran Greg Snyder of Alton. “I ended up on the streets.... I never ever thought I would end up on the streets.”
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The money operates two programs with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The Supportive Services for Veterans and Families program has received $500,000 a year since 2014 and the Healthcare for Homeless Veterans program has received $81,000 since 2013. They have served more than 800 vets and family members since 2013 through the four Chestnut clinics in Belleville, Edwardsville, Granite City and Maryville.
Durbin, a Democrat from Springfield, was at Chestnut in Granite City to meet metro-east vets. The money is the local share of a $9.5 million federal grant to Illinois.
“Too often, our nation’s veterans find themselves facing financial difficulties and the prospect of homelessness. This VA funding will help ensure that organizations like Chestnut Health Systems have the necessary resources to help veteran families transition to permanent housing,” Durbin said.