MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) — More than 375,000 veterans live in Alabama, according to an estimate from the State Department of Veteran Affairs, with over 33,000 of them living in Madison County.
United Way organizations are working together to offer services to this portion of the community.
The American Red Cross works with veterans from the moment they enter the armed services all the way through to retirement and the rest of their lives.
Amy Teeter with the American Red Cross says one of the major things they do is offer mental health services, but their assistance goes far beyond that.
“We offer services if they are in a critical need in the community to organize resources for them to reach out and fulfill those needs,” Teeter explained. “And then also we offer them volunteer opportunities because there is nobody with a bigger heart for service than a veteran.”
Still Serving Veterans has three programs; Career Transition Services, VA Benefit Services and Veteran Resource Connection (which helps veterans who are in crisis), which helps with “situational homelessness, food insecurity, utility insecurities things of that nature,” described Jim King with Still Serving Veterans.
Teeter and King say the two biggest issues facing veterans in Madison County are food insecurity and insufficient affordable housing.
“We’ve had instances where somebody will be evicted on a Friday, and on Monday that same apartment has gone up $400,” King said.
Both nonprofits fall under the United Way of Madison County umbrella and have the ability to refer veterans to other nonprofits for resources their organization does not offer.
“The United Way does such a great job vetting and making sure everyone who is working together is a highly organized and serving organization,” said Teeter. “And what I think is so brilliant for us is as a United Way Partner we can turn to Still Serving Veterans for referrals and know that they are thoroughly vetted and are an incredible partner.”
With around 33,000 veterans in Madison County, organizations that work with them say this creates challenges and opportunities.
“Not everyone that we have come see us are able to get assistance from us. We do have some strict guidelines and we do vet them pretty closely,” King said.
“The volume of people coming in is intense,” Teeter added. “It’s a huge opportunity to make sure that we’re giving veterans information about our services. I think the challenge is to make sure they understand what services are out there. It’s hard to get that message across.”
Teeter wants to reiterate that the American Red Cross helps more than just active-duty military members. You can learn more about their services by visiting the American Red Cross Website.
Still Serving Veterans asks if someone knows a veteran, and they tell them about their website, SSV.org.