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Grant to help VOA fight homelessness among veterans - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Grant to help VOA fight homelessness among veterans

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SHREVEPORT, La. -

"Things were more difficult than I thought they were. It was like jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire."

Just three years ago, Army veteran James Jasmin didn't have the luxury of giving a tour of his home.

"I was one of the ones that dealt with their problems the wrong way."

After undergoing cancer treatment, and unable to find work as a truck driver, Jasmin found himself homeless and at a dead end, so he turned to Volunteers of America in Shreveport.

"I can't begin to tell you everything that Volunteers of America have done for me."

The program at the VOA helps find new living arrangements for those in crisis or helps their families stay in their current homes.

That program will now be able to help even more veterans, thanks to an additional $465,000 grant from the Department of Veteran Affairs.

"We can help them get into a place of their own, which usually consists of maybe first month's rent, security deposit and utility deposit," explains Gary Jaynes, Director of Veterans Services.

Jaynes says the VOA is seeing more and more younger vets come through the program.

"Our hope is that obviously 20 or 30 years down the road we're not dealing with the Iraq and Afghanistan vets because we have services in place now to get it."

After helping 266 vets in Shreveport and Alexandria last year, the VOA expects to match - or exceed - that number this year.

And Jasmin, now an engineering student at Bossier Parish Community College, has no doubt they will.

"I'm working at VOA now, helping other veterans. I mean, what more of a blessing could I get?"

The grant was first awarded to Volunteers of America in October 2011.

In the year ending July 15, 2013, Volunteers of America North Louisiana served 266 veterans and their families in the Shreveport and Alexandria areas. Of those 81 percent found permanent housing. Veterans also received assistance with utilities, transportation, child care, and other needs.

The program is open to very low-income veterans, and those with families who are in permanent housing or have just left permanent housing.

VOA will provide counseling and assistance in cases of loss or reduction of income, disability, medical crises or other circumstances that could lead to homelessness without preventative measures.

All participants will work individually with staff to return to independence.

The local grant is part of a $2 million award given to Volunteers of America of Greater New Orleans, which also includes Baton Rouge. SSVF is part of an ongoing effort by the Veterans Administration to work with nonprofit organizations to address the crisis of homeless veterans.

To apply for assistance, the veteran should contact Volunteers of America North Louisiana, 520 Olive St., Shreveport La. 71104.

They can call (318) 429-7500, or those out of area can call 1-800-222-3196.

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