- Associated Press - Saturday, March 11, 2017

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) - Some have been engineers or contract managers who have lost focus and no longer think they can succeed. Another wins jobs easily, but had a pattern of quitting after a few weeks.

The local Homeless Veteran Reintegration Program meets Allen County homeless military vets where they are at in life and works to build them back up to succeeding in the workforce.

“We deal with people who even their families have given up on them,” said David Wilson, regional program director for Volunteers of America in northern Indiana.

HVRP is an outreach program of the Volunteers of America ministry. The latter dates back to the Civil War era and is an offshoot of the Salvation Army, Wilson said.

Volunteers of America also operates the local Liberty Landing and Safe Haven shelters for homeless U.S. military veterans, he said. The ministry opened the HVRP office in July 2015.

“The main mission of our program is to exude love,” said Terrell Brown, local HVRP program coordinator.

The program, which is funded by the Indiana Department of Labor, begins by getting homeless veterans ready to return to a job, Brown said. That includes everything from helping with resume writing, interviewing skills and job applications to getting them haircuts, interview clothes, tools or specialized work clothing, and providing transportation.

“We break down all the barriers so they can get to work,” said Jennifer Schuler, local HVRP outreach and retention specialist.

HVRP also strives to make sure the veteran and job are a good match so employment goes well for both the veteran and his or her employer, Schuler said.

Once a veteran starts a job, Schuler also makes regular visits to the veteran’s workplace to make sure the job is going well and to help the person work through any concerns or challenges that arise.

Since the ministry opened here, they have served 172 Allen County veterans, and 100 earned employment, Brown said. Others still are a “work in progress.”

HVRP serves veterans of all ages, but a high percentage are in the 55-64 age group, Brown said. About 98 percent of the veterans they serve are men.

The program typically prepares veterans to seek manufacturing, restaurant and warehousing jobs, Brown said. But HVRP will seek out jobs to match a veteran’s skills or interest, including trying to place at a similar skill level those who once worked in management or executive positions.

“If we show them a little love,” Brown said of the vets, “these guys will do things they were not even thought capable of.”

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Source: The (Fort Wayne) News-Sentinel, https://bit.ly/2mGWOg9

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Information from: The News-Sentinel, https://www.news-sentinel.com/ns

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