Sometimes it's the family that needs support: A spouse who must become the breadwinner because the veteran has an irreversible brain injury. Children robbed of the parent they once had. A veteran who has returned from the war but can't resume his former life. Along with the visible injuries, it will take time for all of the unseen wounds of war to be healed.
Finding a Partner in the Veterans Innovations Program
To identify and assist veterans in need, the Veterans Family Fund is working with the Veterans Innovations Program (VIP) of the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs. The VIP has a remarkable track record of success in making small, direct grants that enable the veteran to overcome a temporary setback and get on with his or her life. Here are some of the people who have been helped.
Paving the path to independence
A 28-year-old female veteran who had been a health care specialist in the Army wanted to continue in the medical field but could not get a decent job without CNA certification. After barely getting by on temporary work for a while, she found a job at an adult care facility that would offer her the training she needed to apply for state certification. But for the first six weeks, until she got her certificate, she would earn minimum wage for just 16 hours a week. She was behind on all her bills, and it would be three weeks before her first paycheck. Help from the VIP covered her past-due and current rent and utilities, repaired her vehicle and referred her for a medical assessment and food stamps until her finances stabilized. When she received her CNA certification, she also was offered full-time employment. Two months later she reported being thrilled with her position.
Supporting a family through on-the-job training
After looking for work for a year, an Iraq war veteran decided to attend a nearby community college instead. He had completed about 35 credits when his wife became pregnant. With the cost of living and the added expenses of a child, he could not afford to stay in school. He had strong supervisory skills but little education or civilian work experience. A national hardware chain agreed to provide the veteran with on-the-job training funded through the Veterans Innovations Program. At the conclusion of the program, the veteran will be hired as a salaried store manager, earning the wages he needs to support his growing family.
Helping transfer Army skills to real life
A veteran who had been driving heavy trucks in the Army wanted a civilian job driving tanker trucks. But first he needed training to obtain his Class A commercial driver's license. A VIP competitive grant helped pay for his four-week commercial driving refresher course that led to his CDL-A license and the endorsements needed to transport hazardous materials. Within three weeks he had been hired full-time by a petroleum products company.
Covering a mortgage payment between jobs
Upon returning from two years in Iraq, a 26-year-old male veteran could find only sporadic work in his field, information technology. He received a full-time job offer with stable hours and good pay that promised a step up in life, but the transition put him in a financial crunch because of a one-month lag between paychecks, just as he and his wife were expecting their first child. A charity covered part of his monthly mortgage, and the Veterans Innovations Program covered the balance, giving him a good start in his life as a father.
Helping a family weather a transition to employment
After a medical discharge, a veteran returned from Iraq to his previous job but was laid off after a month. That left his small disability check as his only income—an amount that wasn't enough to live on. The Veterans Innovations Program placed him in a program designed to assist with the transition to employment and helped him and his family stabilize their finances. He recently found a job as a carpenter with a construction firm. He praises the VIP for allowing him and his family to pull through a difficult time until he could provide for them on his own.
Repairing a car so a veteran could get to a job
A veteran wanted to get his commercial driver's license but had no transportation to training or work because he couldn’t afford to repair his car's transmission. The Veterans Innovations Program provided a grant for auto repair and told him about two employers that were willing to pay for his commercial driver's license training if he would agree to work for them for a certain period. He chose a trucking company, which trained and then hired him full-time at good wages.