Homeless Vets Helping Each Other… And You Can Too

homeless-vet1Fostering self-sufficiency is the primary purpose of the Community Outreach, Inc. Good to Go program for veterans in need. It is vets helping each other achieve their goals—finding housing, employment, day-to-day logistical support, camaraderie, and a sense of place.

Every person who has served this country’s armed forces might be different, but all of them share the common bond of having signed their name on the dotted line, and organizers believe these vets deserve a place in this community.

“We see about 22 veterans go through the program every year,” said Ty Pos, Director of Social Services at Community Outreach, Inc. The Good to Go transitional housing program began back in 2013 to help veterans and their families struggling with homelessness. The program operates around integrated case management, weekly meetings, and their own Battle Buddy system.

The Good to Go veterans meet at 9 a.m. every Monday morning at COI to brief one another about everyone’s individual objectives and involve other veteran service providers. New program members form an informal partnership with their Battle Buddy early on in the process. “The Battle Buddy system is organic and designed to ensure that a veteran helps another veteran with a goal,” said Pos. “It is designed to increase positive vet-to-vet support.”

Once enrolled in the program, veterans are required to practice sobriety, seek out employment and volunteer opportunities, and—most importantly—they’re encouraged to pay it forward to another veteran however they can. A grant per diem contract with the Department of Veterans Affairs allows COI to hold four beds open for veterans at any time. Mental health services, along with drug and alcohol treatment, are also part of wraparound services available to veterans if needed.

A six-month SamFit gym membership is provided for veterans enrolled in the program, part of an  increasing variety of benefits offered by community supporters.

Pos, with members and supporters of the program, gladly welcomed this reporter around a rainy lunch-time camp fire in Adair Park Nov. 5 for Good to Go’s second annual disc golf tournament. More than 50 people cheerfully braved the sloppy, wet weather to turn up for the event, which raised over $2,000 for veterans and their families—four times the amount the event raised last year. Event partners included Good Samaritan Health, Duerksen & Associates, Inc., Miller Paint, KFC, and Summit Disc Golf Promotions.

The Corvallis Elks Lodge also recently donated welcome packs with organizational materials and information about both local service programs and those offered through the VA.

Veterans and community members—there’s room for your help, too. The Good to Go program can always use more Monday coffee and a few meeting munchies. You can help folks write letters, fill out forms, provide a few words of encouragement, or just listen.

For more information about the Good to Go veterans’ program, or for other ways you can help Community Outreach, Inc. make a meaningful difference for local low-income individuals and families, check them out on Facebook or visit their website at http://www.communityoutreachinc.org./

By Matthew Hunt