IN THE NEWS: Hope & Honor for Prescott Veterans

U.S.VETS – Prescott is proud to have been featured in a series of articles appearing in the Prescott Daily Courier, beginning February 7, 2016.

This “Hope & Honor” series examines how homelessness is affecting people in the Prescott community, and what agencies like U.S.VETS are doing to solve the problem.

Please find excerpts from each story below, along with links to the full articles.

Hope & Honor: A look at the plight of Prescott’s homeless veterans

By Nanci Hutson

Excerpt: For local veteran and community social service leaders, the statistics are disturbing not just in volume but because they represent real people who they believe deserve more.

U.S.VETS Initiative Operations Manager Skye Biasetti said she understands the stigma attached to homelessness.

“Some people may fear they’re a menace or that it’s their own fault,” she said.

Yet when people learn their stories, and see how hard they have struggled, be it with addictions, mental illness or elusive job searches, Biasetti said she believes they may not be so quick to pass judgment.

“I know our clients’ stories. They became homeless because of a series of circumstances, and every time they tried to get out, they didn’t succeed,” Biasetti said of life struggles that erode one’s mental health. “I’m sure they never wanted to be here, either.”

Social service agency leaders know that given the chance – 91 percent of homeless surveyed across the state expressed a desire for affordable housing – each would prefer a place of their own to living in a constant state of fear for their safety, their health, and their dignity. They, too, suggest a community is only as rich as it treats its poor.

To read the rest of this story, click here.

Hope & Honor: ‘Not a good place to be homeless in’

By Nanci Hutson

Excerpt: Each and every day [Ed] Shier and his community colleagues are seeking creative ways to stretch dollars, and champion for more dollars to create additional housing opportunities, the key to ending homelessness everywhere. A number of organizations work to provide emergency shelter, meals, clothing, rides to appointments, even repairs to low-income housing that might enable an individual, or family, to stay somewhere that might otherwise become uninhabitable.

“For each veteran that comes to our doorstep, we try and help them find a solution,” said U.S.VETS Initiative Operations Manager Skye Biasetti of her agency that works to lead veterans who have hit snags in their life out of homelessness. “They’re not homeless because they’re perfect … They are there due to some life choice, or circumstances, but we can help them to make better life choices.”

U.S.VETS operates the city’s only transitional housing program, a 56-bed downtown complex where veterans can live for up to two years. The VA provides per diem grant funding to assist with those costs.

The transitional housing program offers tailored case management, employment skills training and job placement assistance for each of their clients, along with art and culinary arts classes and relapse prevention groups. Staff also collaborate with the VA and other veteran-service agencies for additional services, including mental health counseling and medical services.

To read the rest of this story, click here.

Hope & Honor: U.S. VETS culinary class teaches lessons that reach far beyond the dinner plate

By Nanci Hutson

Excerpt: Two nights before Valentine’s Day, the dining room at the U.S.VETS Initiative transitional housing complex was a hubbub of festivity: red balloons dangled from the ceiling and the tables were covered with white linen tablecloths and floral centerpieces.

The smell of barbecue brisket stirred the appetites of residents and guests alike. Add to that trays of scalloped potatoes, collard greens, and mushrooms stuffed with crab meat.

The ambiance and menu were all part of showcasing the talents of four once-homeless veterans with a finale meal they prepared just before earning their graduation from the intensive, 13-week culinary arts program started just over a year ago. To date, 12 veterans have graduated from the program, several of them now employed in the local food industry. A couple were on hand to cheer on the newest graduates…

Henry Noorda, a 39-year-old U.S. Navy veteran who came to the U.S.VETS transitional program in October, said he came to the course with a little cooking experience but was able to strengthen skills he had long forgotten, as well as gain knowledge on newer preparation methods and techniques. He, too, gained an appreciation on how to balance nutrition and taste.

Most importantly, though, Noorda and his fellow students said thsi program inspired a healthier outlook about their circumstances, and prodded them to have confidence in their ability to build a better future.

To read the rest of this story, click here.