In Western New York, Erie and Niagara counties have the two largest veteran populations. 42% of these veterans, however, are not informed of the many benefits and services available to them. Thankfully, in 2013, Goodwill Industries of WNY, the WNY Veterans Housing Coalition, and a committee of veterans recognized the need for an organization that could provide the support veterans need during their transition from the military to civilian life. Together they built an organization whose mission is to serve all of those who signed up to fight for this country: Veterans One-stop Center of WNY.
For the past six years, the center has served and engaged with over 11,500 veterans, current service members, and their immediate family members. Now, as we head into 2020, we are pleased to receive funding from United Way of Greater Niagara, one of our newest community partners.
Aligned with United Way’s “live united” mission, the Veterans One-stop Center is a true collaborative organization. We pride ourselves on bringing providers together under one roof to ensure barrier free access to critical services for veterans. By streamlining a multitude of services, veterans and service members are given the guidance, tools and resources to gain employment, build a financial plan, and experience housing stability.
Funding received by United Way will play a key role in supporting one of our core services, the Case Management Program. Through this program, veterans have an opportunity to work in a one-on-one capacity with a case manager to determine basic and critical needs. As each individual’s needs are unique, a full intake process is completed for every veteran requesting services. Our case managers connect veterans with our many on-site services, assist them with the navigation of complex systems and paperwork, advocate on behalf of their clients, and provide referrals to our community partners and resources. Case managers serve as a personal and consistent point of reference and support for each veteran, engaging with approximately 1,900 clients per year. Since the VOC was established in 2013, we have helped more than 6,700 veterans obtain employment, secure stable and safe housing, and receive assistance with their VA benefits, which is a selection of our services.
It is with the help of our community partnerships that we’re able to deliver impactful programs that dramatically improve the lives of our veterans. With the generous support of United Way of Greater Niagara, we look forward to continuing our mission of making sure all veterans in our region have access to housing, financial stability, and the quality of life they deserve.
Chuck Marra is the president and CEO of the Veteran’s One-stop Center of WNY. To learn more, please call 898-0110 or visit vocwny.org.