A local veterans organization has received a $200,000 grant from the anti-poverty group Robin Hood Foundation. The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America is using the money to hire three case managers that’ll work individually with vets to connect them with employment, health care, and other needed services.
One of the case managers, Ryan Weemer, said that peer support can be essential. The U.S. Marine said he received help from fellow vets when he transitioned out of the military in 2005.
“I went to a vets center in St. Louis and talked to a Vietnam Veteran, for the first time,” he said. “He was really able to put things into perspective and it was at that point like it just clicked, that the veteran to veteran interaction, and the peer to peer kind of thing is just what a lot of guys and girls need.”
Weemer will help returning vets with questions they have about the G.I. Bill, and returning to school. He said they can discuss a variety of issues around education, and benefits under the G.I. bill, and how to find the right school.
“We’d talk about, you know, your goals and interests … maybe look into some programs, look at some schools that you’re interested in,” he said.
IAVA’s goal is to help connect 1,000 vets with the services they need. The group says the hope is that the pilot program could one day serve as a national model. The Robin Hood Foundation said the grant is its 22nd geared toward vets initiatives. The group also said it has raised $13 million dollars, to go specifically to organizations that help connect veterans with the services they need.