American GI Forum makes sure Military City, USA won’t forget our brave soldiersBookmark this
Carlos Martinez spent four years in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam Era. When he returned home, he didn’t like what he saw. Vietnam veterans weren’t respected after fighting a controversial war drawing countless protests.
“Veterans then were badly treated by the general public and because of that trend, services for them weren’t readily available,” Carlos recalls. “This reminded me of how Hispanic military veterans didn’t get the services or attention they needed after World War II.”
In 1972 in San Antonio, Carlos joined the American GI Forum in founding the National Veterans Outreach Program (AGIF-NVOP) to serve veterans hands on at the community level. Today, he is the president and CEO.
Carlos estimates that 60 percent of their clients are homeless veterans, and that 25 percent are the families of veterans. The CEO adds that many veterans like to move to “Military City, USA” (San Antonio) once finished with their service. They’re now seeing an additional 20-30 veterans per month come in for services!
Among their programs:
Veterans Service Center: A one-stop place for the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program, Basic Skills Upgrade and Clothing Closet.
Residential Center for Veterans: Individually tailored job counseling, employment services, chemical dependency counseling, daily meal service and community reintegration programs.
NVOP also provides housing for disabled or homeless veterans with families.
Annually, NVOP hosts a Veterans Day Stand Down, where they help 500 homeless veterans and individuals by providing various services from more than 50 community partners and nonprofits.
Since 1972, the program has served almost 500,000 veterans. Included among them are Seth Jarmon and Derrick Sanchez.
Seth served in the U.S. Army as a Hawk Missile crew member. After the military, he struggled with drugs and a lifestyle which led to prison. Knowing that substance abuse led to his homelessness, Seth sought treatment. After completing rehab, he came to AGIF for employment. His trust in God led him to success, stability and becoming an AGIF Outreach Specialist. Carlos now describes Seth as a “highly-committed Christian;” Seth has worked four years for the organization as an outreach specialist.
“I think so often veterans are overlooked. They sacrifice so much, sometimes everything, and are given very little to nothing in return for that sacrifice. The NVOP is a huge resource in our co mmunity for veterans and their families. They provide counseling, job training, and family services to name a few. I think what’s most important, though, is that they restore dignity in our veterans who just need some help. We need to be supporting that.”
Elisia Carr, Marketing Coordinator, Documation
Derrick, who spent eight years as a U.S. Navy Sonar Technician, had difficulties transitioning to civilian life. Through the program, he received support services such as counseling and training to upgrade his skills. He now works for the organization as an intake certification specialist. “He’s done a great job for us,” Carlos says.
They’re now seeing an additional 20-30 veterans per month come in for services!
“The 450,000 veterans we’ve served well. Most have gone on and have lived their lives. With these men and women, it is truly a privilege to watch their transformations and successes.”
The veteran residents living at the center are invited to attend a Bible Study Fellowship Bible study; typically a group of 10-15 may attend. To serve its clients, the Outreach Program also relies on a network of agencies: St. Vincent de Paul, Christian dental clinics, Church Under the Bridge, Travis Park United Methodist Church and Chrysalis Ministries. They are involved in soup kitchens, community events, job training and housing. These ministries also assist with school supplies, food banks and make sure the veterans get the medical and mental health treatment they need. “We’re launching our own mental health unit for after-hour services,” Carlos says.
The program also relies on funding through state and federal grants, along with other agencies.“Nonprofits always have more work than they have money,” Carlos says. “We try to find as many resources as we can. We do have foundation support from places like Walmart, USAA, along with veterans’ groups and auxiliaries.”
Carlos describes many of these as “small grants” that help for specific purposes. They currently need general dollars for filling in the gaps.
Our veterans need our help. The services offered for those that served their country are minimal at best. NVOP is making a difference but they cannot do it alone. It’s time for the church to stand up, lend a hand and change the life of a vet!
“Where would we be today without those who willingly chose to serve our country? I believe the least we could do is help to give them back maybe just a little of what they might’ve lost. Organizations like the American GI Forum NVOP are so important to cities and communities like ours with a strong military presence. We need to respect their sacrifice, and show up when they need us. AGIF helps us do that.”
Hunter Woolfolk, Co-President DOCUmation
American GI Forum National Veterans Outreach Program
611 N. Flores, Suite 200, SAT 78205
Be A Light.
Pray. Ask God to give the leadership favor and wisdom. Donate. Give to the general fund especially. Spread the word. Invite your favorite business leader schedule a tour. Invite. Ask a representative to come and speak to your church, ministry or small group. Volunteer. Learn how you can pitch in monthly; it’s a great way to thank a vet!
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