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One in every twelve Oregonians is a veteran. According to the Oregon Department of Corrections, one in every ten people incarcerated in Oregon’s state prisons is also a veteran. This means that the percentage of veterans living in Oregon prisons is higher than the total percentage of veterans living in our communities. With 95% of incarcerated individuals eventually returning to our communities, Sponsors felt it important to establish a re-entry program specifically designed to support the unique needs of the veteran population.
Funded with a grant from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Sponsors started its 10 bed Veterans Administration Grant and Per Diem (VA GPD) Program at its Roosevelt Crossing facility in 2010. Since inception, the program has served more than 100 formerly incarcerated veterans. Individuals in this program build a tight-knit community as a result of their shared experiences and extended stay at Sponsors, and many rely upon this community as an important source of support. Program participants receive Sponsors’ wraparound services, in addition to specialized resources including veterans’ case management service from Aaron Hafdahl.
Aaron, a seasoned case manager who joined Sponsors’ staff in 2011, acts as a knowledgeable and supportive conduit to resources for veterans in our community. The VA and other community organizations offer crucial resources and services to our veterans, and Aaron assists individuals in navigating sometimes complex systems to access them—a process that can be overwhelming to someone who just released from prison.
Lane County veterans face extraordinarily high rates of homelessness. On November 11, 2014, members of Lane County leadership launched “Operation 365 Veterans,” a community-wide effort to place 365 homeless veterans in 365 beds during the year 2015. Sponsors and other community organizations affiliated with the county-wide Poverty and Homelessness Board were instrumental in our community’s ability to successfully meet and surpass this ambitious goal.
It is important to us, as an organization, to help vets who have fallen on hard times while also improving public safety and alleviating homelessness in our community. Sponsors’ newest housing facility, The Oaks at 14th, is slated to open in spring 2017, and it will provide permanent housing to individuals who face the greatest barriers to housing, including veterans with criminal histories who will receive priority access. We are proud to be able to serve those who have served us, and would like to thank all of our veterans for their service.