Metro-East News

Homeless veterans to get help thanks to mental health grant

Chestnut Health Systems is set to receive a $510,116 federal grant to prevent homelessness among veterans and their families.

Money awarded to Chestnut is meant to help veterans in the metro-east. Chestnut has locations in Belleville, Granite City, Edwardsville and Maryville.

Chestnut Clinical Director Amy Gibbar said this is the fourth year Chestnut has received the grant, and money is used to employ six full-time staff members.

The Chestnut staff members work with veterans to find jobs, keep them employed, and to live within a budget, among other things.

About $200,000 from the grant also is set aside to help veterans pay rent and utilities, among other things to prevent homelessness.

“It’s always rewarding when you can say you’ve helped a veteran no longer be homeless or prevent them from being homeless,” Gibbar said.

In the first year with the grant, Chestnut served about 130 people; the second year it served 120 people. In its third year, it served 105 people, Gibbar said. During the fourth year, Chestnut expects to serve about 100 people.

“We believe the number of homeless veterans is decreasing in our area,” Gibbar said.

The grant was one of $9.5 million in grants U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, announced on Friday for organizations around the state.

More than $300 million was awarded through the Department of Veteran Affairs Supportive Services for Veteran Families program.

“Too often, our nation’s veterans find themselves facing financial difficulties and the prospect of homelessness. This investment will help ensure that veterans receive the help they need to stay in their homes and provide a safe and stable environment for their loved ones,” Durbin said. “I commend the VA’s efforts, and I am proud to continue working alongside the department to keep our promise to America’s veterans.”