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The Madison Record

Priority Veteran helps with housing, livelihood

MADISON – Affiliated with United Way, the Priority Veteran organization helps military personnel to find housing if they are homeless or a nearing homeless situation.

“Priority Veteran provides intensive one-on-one assistance to help veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness to locate stable permanent housing and link them to resources to gain the skills and knowledge to help them remain financially stable,” Samuetta Nesbitt said.

Nesbitt is Priority Veteran’s Senior Vice President for Public Relations/Media Relations/Community Relations.

Case managers help veterans “create a Housing Stability Plan, as well as access medical or mental health services, veteran’s benefits enrollment, job search assistance, financial coaching and more,” Nesbitt said.

A ‘priority veteran’ is one who is homeless (along with family members) or at risk homelessness. This veteran has a very low income, based on area income standards. These veterans did not receive a dishonorable discharge.

In addition, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has defined other requirements to consider in determining eligibility.

The Priority Veteran program offers several benefits:

* Obtaining permanent, stable housing.

* Securing Veterans Administration, federal and/or state benefits.

* Accessing community-based resources.  

* Completing employment training and getting a job.  

* Advocating with landlord/tenant disputes and overdue rent/utility charges.

* Offering temporary financial assistance with deposits, rent, moving costs, housing supplies and utility bills.

“Veterans have to voluntarily agree to a Housing Stability Plan. Families can call Priority Veteran and encourage veterans to enroll,” Nesbitt said.

Floyd Alexander is one individual that Priority Veteran has helped. He once lived in the tent city under the I-565 bridge overpass in Huntsville. Priority Veteran case manager Shanevalene Garrett helped Alexander transition to a one-bedroom apartment and secure a job.

“Mr. Alexander was content where he was,” Garrett said. “His financial issues and a lack of family and social support made him content in his situation, and he wasn’t seeking any of the benefits he could have received.”

Alexander served about three years in the military and received the National Defense Service Medal and qualified as a Sharpshooter in hand grenade training. Also, he was a Marksman in his M-16 Rifle and air assault training.

The Priority Veteran initiative has helped more 1,700 homeless or near homeless veterans statewide, but program managers say many more veterans can be served, Nesbit said. For more information, call 1-866- 460-3827 or visit priorityveteran.org.  

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