Veteran gets fresh start with help of West Virginia Supportive Services for Veteran Familes program
Last year, more than 2,300 veterans and their family members avoided homelessness because of the assistance they received from Volunteers of America's Veterans Services.
U.S. Army veteran Zach Mitchem devoted four years of his life serving our country in Korea and Afghanistan. When he returned from his time in the service to Beckley, W. Va., transitioning into civilian life was not an easy task. He ended up spending time in prison for a drug charge, and when he was ready to be released last spring, he had nowhere to go and found himself facing homelessness.
Fortunately, through referral from his Veteran Affairs office, Zach found the assistance he needed with Volunteers of America Mid-States' Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program in Beckley. With our assistance, Zach was able to move into his own affordable housing and he is now financially stable and working a full-time construction job with Veterans Contracting Enterprises.
Our programs serve veterans and their families throughout our five-state service region of Kentucky, Southern Indiana, Southern Ohio and West Virginia. Last year alone, these programs helped more than 2,300 veterans and their family members avoid homelessness, including 489 children and 247 seniors.
"Zach was really proactive and that helped us help him," said Heather Bingley, Zach's SSVF case manager. "He wanted to create a better life and put his past behind him."
Heather noted that our program was the only one in the area at the time that was able to assist Zach with items like furniture for his apartment and a bicycle for him to ride to work each day. During inclement weather, Zach's boss, Phillip Cox, owner of Veterans Contracting Enterprises, would pick him up on his way to their work site. Our programs value the opportunity to partner with businesses and employers who make it a priority to hire veterans.
Zach shared that he is grateful to work with Phillip, as he is a combat veteran himself and understands the struggles veterans can face, like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).This feeling of gratitude and appreciation extends to Heather and the rest of SSVF staff who helped him get back on his feet.
"Volunteers of America is an absolutely amazing program," Zach said. "They are a blessing. Any veteran who needs help should go to them."
The West Virginia SSVF program served 85 veterans and their families last year and expects to assist even more veterans this year. Volunteers of America is proud to serve the men and women who served our country and to help address the complicated challenges veterans face when transitioning back into civilian life.
For more information on our Veterans Services, please visit voamid.org/veterans.