'Giving a hand up, not a hand out'

U.S. Army Reserve Command
Story by Timothy Hale

Date: 08.02.2012
Posted: 08.03.2012 13:30
News ID: 92634
'Giving a hand up, not a hand out'

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. – Homeless veterans in the local area may be just a little more comfortable thanks to the efforts of U.S. Army Reserve Command military and civilian employees.<br /> <br /> The USARC Chaplain’s Office delivered boxes full of hundreds of sundry items to the Veterans Empowering Veterans organization, Aug. 2, 2012, in downtown Fayetteville.<br /> <br /> The V.E.V., a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, provides case management and counseling, employment training, housing, and benefit assistance to homeless veterans in Fayetteville and surrounding areas, said Renee Elder, founder and chief executive officer.<br /> <br /> Elder, an Army veteran, said donations such as those from USARC are a major part of her operation.<br /> <br /> “Our first priority is to meet their needs – their basic needs,” Elder said. <br /> <br /> “We give a hand up, not a hand out,” she said. “Veterans Empowering Veterans is all about you empowering yourself to get back into society through training and life skills.”<br /> <br /> Elder said the clients she helps must be actively seeking employment. They provide assistance with résumé writing, clothing for job interviews, assistance in finding a safe place to live, food, even babysitting services for clients going to job interviews.<br /> <br /> In addition to sundry items, V.E.V. also accepts furniture, clothing, food items, and more to assist those veterans who are trying to help themselves.<br /> <br /> Master Sgt. Anthony Pamplin, master chaplain assistant at USARC, said the V.E.V. organization was a natural fit for the Chaplain’s Office collection and donation program.<br /> <br /> “We felt there was a need to give back to our community, in particular, our veterans,” Pamplin said.<br /> <br /> The USARC collection program is not new for Pamplin. When USARC was at Fort McPherson in Atlanta, he helped organize similar donations for a women’s shelter there.<br /> <br /> After a year at Fort Bragg, Pamplin said the time was right to restart the program.<br /> <br /> “Veterans Empowering Veterans seemed to really fit what our goal was – to give to our veterans,” Pamplin said. “It wasn’t just giving a hand out. They actually help people with employment and things of that nature.”<br /> <br /> Wesley Walker, a U.S. Air Force veteran who has been homeless off and on since 1982, said he discovered V.E.V. by just walking down the street.<br /> <br /> “I came inside and asked them what their program was all about,” Walker said. What he found most interesting was the volunteer hours that he could work there.<br /> <br /> “I’m a 60 percent disabled veteran. There aren’t many jobs out there for a 60 percent disabled veteran,” he said. Walker said it’s also hard for him to find a job because of a 14-year addiction to crack cocaine but he’s trying to break that with help.<br /> <br /> Walker is currently enrolled in the Chemical Addiction Rehabilitation Program through the local Veteran’s Administration clinic. Being active in that program allows him to volunteer at V.E.V., Walker said.<br /> <br /> He said that he’s been clean for 66 days but he’s been there before. “I have this 90 day plateau I always reach,” he said. “I think that I’ve got it all covered and all squared away and then I just screw up.”<br /> <br /> Walker said that being in his own place helps because it keeps him off the street. Through donations and fundraising, V.E.V. was able to put a permanent roof over his head.<br /> <br /> “V.E.V. helped me get in my own place,” Walker said. “I have no stressors when I go home. I go home and I can relax.”<br /> <br /> Elder feels it is her duty to help as many veterans like Walker as she can.<br /> <br /> “I’ve always helped veterans,” Elder said, recalling times when she assisted veterans while she was a recruiter.<br /> <br /> “It is our duty as humans to help someone in need,” she said. “When you help, the Bible tells you, ‘give and it shall be given to you’ … we operate on that principle.”<br /> <br /> For more information about the organization, visit their website at http://www.veteransempoweringveterans.org.