The recent Veterans Day celebrations saw different organizations in several states giving renewed hope to our vets.
In California, the Santa Cruz County Veteran’s Memorial Building Trustees closed escrow on Jaye’s Timberlane Resort, located off of Highway 9 in Ben Lomond. The place was converted into housing for homeless veterans on the Central Coast.
After suffering through physical injuries and personal disappointment, Air Force veteran Darren Barthl said he was ready to give up all hope.
“I was ready for suicide. I was ready to check out,” he said.
But when he learned of The Santa Cruz County Veteran’s Memorial Building Trustees housing project for veterans, he felt hopeful.
Barthl had been living in the Benchlands but is now one of the vets housed at the former resort.
“Me and my buddy David kind of made it. We were the two that kind of pushed it that said we could do this,” he said.
What the pair did was push for the first-ever Veterans Village, a permanent and affordable housing solution for vets and their families.
“Getting the vets isn’t even the problem. There’s 58 vets with Section 8 housing vouchers in this county that aren’t even using them. Why wouldn’t we take that opportunity to house our vets even among the community?” said Marine Corps veteran David Pedley.
According to Susan True, the Community Foundation Santa Cruz County CEO, partners like Housing Matters have already screened individuals to confirm their eligibility for Federal Administration housing vouchers.
The property has 10 cabins, a home with four bedrooms and three bathrooms, and an office that will provide various services to veterans. The place can immediately accommodate up to 18 vets, and there’s a possibility for expansion.
The Community Foundation is one of the several groups involved in Veterans Village. It hopes to raise more money with a $75,000 donor matching program through November.
As for Barthl, he is adjusting nicely to his new community and home.
“Feel accepted and Housing Matters really made a difference. They made it so I had a plan to stay and I can grow and I am back,” he said.
In Arizona, a new housing facility will be built for veterans in north Phoenix. The non-profit organization U.S. VETS and elected officials recently announced the new facility near Interstate 17 and Cactus Road.
The non-profit organization was forced to evacuate its previous location last year when the rent doubled. With assistance from Mayor Kate Gallego and the Phoenix City Council, the city spent $10.5 million to purchasing and renovating the former hotel in north Phoenix.
Aside from housing, vets in need will receive services such as health care, counseling, and skills training, which will allow them to use what they’ve learned in the service and apply it to regular jobs.
Michelle Jameson, executive director of U.S.VETS in Phoenix, told KTAR News:
“We have an outreach team, you call us and we’re going to go get our veterans and we’ll give their immediate needs – shelter, food, clothing, a warm place to sleep.”
U.S. VETS in Phoenix has helped over 10,000 veterans since 2001. The organization has provided housing, workforce development, and case management services to the vets.
Marine Corps veteran Samuel Coggins is one of them. He came into the program in May, and he now has a success story to share.
“Because of U.S. VETS giving me assistance and hand ups, not handouts – I was able to go through with a job interview and land the job and now I have a job that I love,” he said.
Coggins currently works in a veterinary office in Scottsdale. He also helps other vets get off the streets and back on their feet.
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