The purpose of Mo’s Heroes is to provide services to assist in reintegrating homeless veterans into meaningful employment within the labor force and to stimulate the development of effective service delivery systems that will address the complex problems facing homeless veterans.
Mo’s Heroes will provide an array of services utilizing a case management approach that directly assists homeless veterans, as well as provide critical linkages for a variety of supportive services available in our local community. Our program is “employment focused.” Veterans, and their families, receive the employment and training services they need in order to re-enter the labor force. Job placement, training, job development, career counseling, resume preparation, are among the services provided. Supportive services, such as: clothing; provision of or referral to temporary, transitional, and permanent housing; referral to medical and substance abuse treatment; and transportation assistance are also provided to meet the needs of this target group.
Our plan is to use an outreach component using veterans who themselves have experienced homelessness. In recent years, this successful technique has been used around the nation. It allows the programs to utilize formerly homeless veterans in various other positions where there is direct client contact, such as; counseling; peer coaching; intake; and follow-up services.
Mo’ Heroes’ emphasis on helping homeless veterans get and retain jobs is will be enhanced through many linkages and coordination with various veterans’ services programs and organizations, such as the: Disabled Veterans’ Outreach Program; veterans’ employment representatives stationed in the local employment service offices of the State Workforce Agencies; Workforce Investment Boards; One-Stop Centers; Veterans’ Workforce Investment Program; American Legion; Disabled American Veterans; Veterans of Foreign Wars; and the Departments of Veterans’ Affairs, Housing and Urban Development, and Health and Human Services.
Mo’s Heroes is focused on working with homeless veterans for many of the very reasons expressed in the quoted passages below — because of the high incidence of returning veterans tend to be chronically-unemployed or –underemployed in our community. This severe underutilization of their talents and experience creates stressors that, many times, cause them to engage in behavior that leads to their incarceration. This results in a higher crime rate and more unnecessary suffering for all our residents.
“Poverty does not create crime, nor is limited wealth and income necessarily a predictor of involvement in the justice system; however, evidence shows that people with the fewest financial resources are more likely to end up in prison or jail. And during an economic crisis like the one we are now experiencing, people at the lower end of the income and wealth spectrum frequently bear a disproportionate share of the consequences.”
Many returning veterans are caught in a normally inescapable conundrum. They need to work to make the life changes that can lead to economic self-sufficiency and greater personal opportunity, but are unable to access meaningful work due to a lack of experience, skills and support required to successfully enter the labor market.
As a result, many of the returning veterans are inextricably caught in a vortex of false starts. They soon fall further and further behind, and eventually become resigned to a dependency on government support. Many veterans need to be aggressively encouraged and engaged with high levels of accountability. Across the country, the most powerful transitional employment initiatives have proven that the spiral of failure can be interrupted. It requires that these individuals have access to, and are engaged in, comprehensive supports that allow them to address a wide range of personal, educational and employment needs within the context of real-time work experience linked to a career pathway. These are the services Mo’s Heroes is designed to provide.