Category Archives: Veterans

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes – 10/27/17

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes – October 27, 2017

In attendance: Steve Connor, Veterans Services, Sue Moorman, HUD-VASH, Katherine Persons, Veterans, Inc., Pamela Schwartz, Network, Kate Sweester-Owens, HUD-VASH, Allie Wilson-Pierce, HUD-VASH 

Our discussion this meeting focused on the debrief from the Network’s Leadership Council meeting on 10/25 in which it was decided that due to the funding situation (the Network has not yet been funded this year and it is unlikely it will be), the LC will use this opportunity to review Network functions and determine (with the help of a facilitator) how best to sustain the important value of the Network.
The group discussion reached consensus on the following:
  • the Network veteran meetings are very valuable for ensuring communication up and down the 91 corridor and for providing opportunities for innovative collaboration (e.g., the implementation of new systems to identify veterans in Hampden County Corrections flowed from these meetings). Everyone in attendance felt very committed to continuing to meet (and attributed this meeting’s low attendance to known conflicts, noting high level of attendance in preceding meetings)
  • Meeting every 2 months, alternating between Springfield and Northampton would be sufficient to accomplish their goals
  • Rotating the coordination of scheduling and reminder notice/agenda creation could be accomplished by committee members
  • At our next meeting we will discuss assigning “volunteer” facilitation roles and schedule meetings for 2018
  • Pamela will relay this discussion to the Network’s interim steering Committee which is meeting on Nov. 20 to discuss next steps for Network planning.
  • Confirmed next meeting date (previously scheduled) for Friday, Dec. 1, 9:15 am, MHA

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes – 9/8/17

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes
September 8, 2017
 

In attendance:  Dan Boyea, Hampden County Sheriff’s Department, Keegan Hersey, Veterans Inc., Sue Moorman, VA, Katherine Person, Veterans Inc, Nikki Riello, Hilltown CDC, Denise Rivera, Friends of the Homeless/CSO, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Kate Sweetster-Owens, HUD VASH, Stephanie Tonelli, Friends of the Homeless/CSO, Sabrina Willard, Soldier On

Hampden County Sheriff Department Update:  Dan relayed his thanks to the VSO Association (Chris Lizotte chair, with help from Steve Connor) for providing the necessary letter requesting that contact info on current veteran inmates get forwarded to the appropriate municipality’s VSO for follow-up in the service of public safety.  This is the request they needed to make it possible for the Sheriff’s Department to provide this information. Referrals and connections are happening now (both with inmates traveling to the VSO and with the VSO traveling to the correctional facility).  This is very exciting progress and promises to reduce homelessness for formerly incarcerated veterans. Thanks to Dan and to the VSO’s for their leadership on this! We agreed that this collaboration could offer a model statewide and that we will be sure DVS is aware.
Nikki Riello of the 3 County CoC will pursue contacts in the Berkshire County Corrections to try to replicate this arrangement.
Dan also announced that he just received a promotion to Grants Coordinator for the system, but the good news is that either he or another from the Sheriff’s Dept. will continue to attend these meetings.  Congratulations to Dan!
Hampden County by-name list: At the latest meeting earlier this week, there were only 9 veterans on the list.  Great progress is being made.
Three County by-name list: Outside of Soldier On, there are 10 veterans on the list, 4 of whom are unsheltered. At Soldier On, there are 190, a significant drop from the aprox. 250 formerly sheltered there (many transitioned into permanent supportive housing).
Other 3 County updates: working on veteran referral form for other providers (modeled after Hampden County CoC referral form); working on outreach to VSO’s in more municipalities
Announcements:
  • Soldier On’s dedication of its new veteran housing (Gordon H. Mansfield Veteran Housing) in Agawam will take place on September 18, 1 pm, 702 South Westfield Street, Feeding Hills. 51 units of veteran housing, move-in date slated for end of Sept.
  • Stand Down is happening on Friday, 9/29 – Greek Cultural Center, 16 Plainfield St. Springfield
  • Northampton Housing Authority now has a trickle of HUD VASH vouchers again (formerly all used for Agawam housing but that need has no been met so acquiring vouchers through attrition, etc.).
Keegan’s update from Maine: Keegan of Veterans Inc attended a veterans committee meeting convened by the ME CoC (only one CoC for the state).  It was interesting to see their emphasis on governance and the level of prescriptive detail when contact with a veteran is made. Their goal is to ensure sustainability of the system regardless of actual individuals involved. We agreed this is an important element that deserves more attention in this region.
Keegan’s other update on Grants Per Diem (GPD): this grant in Shrewsbury is changing as of 10/1, transferring more beds to a clinical case management model.  All part of the overall shift in allocation of beds in the GPD program.
Next meeting dates:
October 27, Northampton, 9:00 -10:30
Friday, December 1, MHA, 9:15-10:30

Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes – 7/28/17

Veterans Committee Meeting
July 28, 2017
 
In attendance: Dan Boyea, Hampden County Sheriff’s Office, Ben Cluff, MA DPH, Keegan Hersey, Veterans Inc, Sue Moorman, HUD-VASH, Nikki Riello, Hilltown CDC, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Kate Sweetster-Owens, HUD-VASH, Sabrina Willard, Soldier On
 
Hampden County Housing Resource Referral Guide for Veterans:
Gerry asked the committee to review this housing resource form.
Feedback included:
  • VASH corrections: does not require active duty; can have dishonorable discharge if have a service connection; do not have to be disabled; only real bar is level 3 sex offender (life-time registry)
  • For Veterans Inc: disqualified if dishonorably discharged (unless service connected)
  • Explain acronyms (e.g., VISPDAT and everything else) – not user friendly to a typical case manager
  • Refers to entering into Homelink – presuming that is obsolete as system is about to change?
  • Add to VSO section: to find VSO’s from other communities go to http://www.mass.gov/veterans/utility/local-veterans-service-officers-3.html or more general info page – http://www.mass.gov/veterans/ – which leads you to VSO listing
Three County CoC Update
Nikki Riello reported from the 3 County CoC; she was recently hired by the 3 County CoC to manage the veterans chronic homelessness by-name lists.  She was referred to this meeting by the Jim Clark, the Pittsfield VSO.  She is happy to learn of the Network and the work going on with the Hampden County CoC.  Pamela will connect her with Gerry and referred her to their regular by-name list meetings to exchange information and approaches.
Nikki reported that there are currently 25 veterans on the by-name list (not including Soldier On; still working on connecting with them).  Nikki is meeting with providers to obtain relevant information and update the lists.
Nikki will reach out to Steve Connor to obtain the hand-out produced by the veterans committee last year that summarizes all veterans resources and the referral process so she can provide that to providers in her meetings.  We agreed the challenge is in continuing to educate both management and staff (especially in view of turnover) about conducting quick referrals to veterans services as soon as veteran status is identified. Ben will also reach out to Jay Sacchetti to encourage widespread distribution of this information among ServiceNet staff.
Hampden County Corrections Update
Dan Boyea reported that there are currently roughly 37 incarcerated veterans.  Katherine Person will check in with Steve about connecting with Chris Lizotte of West Springfield (head of the Western MA VSO’s) to obtain a letter from the VSO’s association to the jail requesting to be kept updated about veterans in the jail so they can reach out to them and support their re-entry and public safety.  This will facilitate information sharing.
New ServiceNet SAMHSA grant
ServiceNet received a new SAMHSA grant that will provide case management services for homeless individuals who also have mental health/substance use issues.  Veterans are a high priority.  Please click here for the referral form.  Erin Forbush is the contact at: eforbush@servicenet.org
New substance abuse services directory available
Ben Cluff advised us that an updated director is available.  Please click here.
VASH voucher update/available housing for VASH-ineligible vets
Sue Moorman reported that the VA is uncharacteristically out of HUD VASH vouchers because they have been allocated to Soldier On’s new Agawam housing (administered by the Northampton Housing Authority).  They are finding vouchers where possible through Way Finders if there is a change in circumstance.  Also, if families are involved, referring to SSVF.
Agawam is also accepting applications for VA ineligible veterans.  Contact Colin Flynn at cflynn@wesoldieron.org for more information.
FY18 State Budget Update:
Pamela reported on the current outcomes of the Governor’s vetoes, subject to legislative override (but still subject to the Governor’s 9C budget cuts in view of revenue shortfall) that will impact resources for veterans:
  • Elimination of Network earmark – $0 funding
  • Elimination of Berkshire Regional Housing Authority
  • Elimination of youth housing and services funding (serves 18-24 year olds)
  • Elimination of RAFT eligibility expansion (reducing RAFT from $15m to $13m) that would have made RAFT available to individuals
  • Elimination of New Lease program funding
  • Reduction in Housing Consumer Education funding
  • Reduction in Tenancy Preservation Program funding expansion that would have provided for “further upstream” eviction prevention
The legislature now has the opportunity to override the Governor’s vetoes which they will likely take up in September.  Please stay tuned for advocacy alerts.
Next meeting: Friday, September 8, 9:15 am – 10:30 am, Mental Health Association, Springfield (note it’s not our usual last Friday in August due to summer schedules).