The HUD Kentucky Field Office has been proactive educating soldiers about the Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) program and helping them understand their options before they leave the armed forces.
Through an agreement between United States Army Fort Knox, the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), and HUD Kentucky, the HUD Kentucky team provided their first presentation about VASH benefits to over 30 soldiers transitioning back into civilian life after their years of service.
Regardless of rank or length of service, when soldiers prepare to separate or retire from the U.S. Army, they are required to attend mandatory training classes that teach resume building, interview skills, and overviews of veteran benefits. This program, called the Transition Assistance Program (TAP), is offered through the military installation's Soldier for Life Center.
At Fort Knox Kentucky, the TAP is attended by more than a thousand soldiers a year who are in the process of completing their military careers. Veterans who participated in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom are the largest group of VASH recipients, according to VA statistics. The soldiers who participated in HUD's presentation had clear ideas of what they wanted to do after their military career, but very few had solid plans for housing.
"The Kentucky HUD Office is proud to partner with such a great organization" said Ahsaki Thurman, HUD Kentucky Field Office Director. "Our job is to make a difference in the lives of our soldiers, who ensure our freedoms. We can't repay their sacrifice, but we can improve their quality of life when they return to civilian life." Jennifer Quaye from the Fort Knox Transition Assistance Center said, the information provided by HUD "is incredibly valuable and applicable to all soldiers separating from the Army."
The Fort Knox Soldier for Life Center offers the Transition Assistance Program four times a month and the Kentucky Field Office plans to continue attending and providing briefings to all veterans transitioning out of the military. The Kentucky Field Office also has plans to partner with the Nashville Field Office to expand the effort to U.S. Army Fort Campbell, which is twice the size of Fort Knox.
In 2008, VA and HUD teamed up to reduce and eliminate homelessness among Veterans. The HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program combines HUD's Housing Choice Voucher rental assistance for homeless Veterans with case management and clinical services provided by the VA. The VA provides these services for participating Veterans at VA medical centers, community-based outreach clinics, through VA contractors, or through other VA designated entities.