CHARLOTTE (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — As another Veterans Day passes, the work to support those who have served and call the Carolinas home never really stops.
Veterans Bridge Home connects veterans and their families in any state of transition to the community.
One of those needs could be housing. The non-profit received a federal grant to provide housing support to veterans. The men and women must have served at least one day, live in Mecklenburg County, and have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The non-profit received nearly 1 million from the American Rescue Plan Act.
“It makes you feel really good that you’re able to help a brother or a sister,” explained veteran Dwayne Wells. Wells, a Charlotte native, served in the Army and now he continues to serve just in a different way.
“Half the battle is saying I am here and I am a veteran,” Wells explained. There’s a good chance that if you call Veterans Bridge Home at some point you will hear Wells’ voice. He manages the care coordination center for the non-profit that’s a one-stop shop for veterans in the Carolinas.
“Our job is to triage that conversation with the veteran to see what resources in the community they live in that we can connect them to,” explained Wells.
Wells often transfers calls over to Matt Smead. Smead is a veteran and a licensed mental health counselor who oversees the federal funding grant program. So far, he’s helped around 80 families. There is money available to continue helping veterans and their families for another year and a half.
“We’ve had veterans couch surfing. We’ve had families that have been in and out of shelters or in their cars. A lot of people are in housing but they’re having trouble making ends meet and they won’t be prepared when rent comes due the first of the month,” Smead said. “There is a wealth of emotion and stress that can come along with having these financial issues on top of whatever else might be going on in your life.”
For both Wells and Smead, every day is Veterans Day. One issue they run into is veterans often don’t identify as veterans.
“I didn’t deploy to Iraq or Afghanistan so I’m not a veteran. That’s not true. If you served in uniform we want to hear from you,” Wells said.
The more upstream work that’s done Smead believes veterans and their families will be better off.