“I didn’t know where to go,” George Benner, a Vietnam veteran said. “I didn’t know what to do.”
Senator Chris Brown repeated the story of Mr. Benner, who served in the Navy, was left homeless several years ago when he lost his job, as the Senate passed Brown’s bipartisan bill to create a grant program to help homeless veterans in Atlantic, Cape May, and Cumberland counties find shelter.
The New Jersey Senate passed Sen. Chris Brown’s bipartisan bill to create a grant program to help homeless veterans in Atlantic, Cape May, and Cumberland counties find shelter. (SenateNJ.com)
“I don’t want any veteran to reach a point in their life, like Mr. Benner, where they have no job, no home and no answers,” Brown, a combat veteran activated for war on two occasions, said.
The bill, S-171, requires the NJ Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to award grants to Atlantic, Cape May, and Cumberland counties to provide veterans with improved access to homeless shelters. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates there are 550 veterans who are homeless on any given day in New Jersey.
Brian Wiener, commander for the Department of New Jersey Veterans of Foreign Wars, said this bill is a legislative priority with the veterans community.
“There is a clear need for more services in Atlantic County,” said Wiener. “At our recent stand down event in Pleasantville, we helped 39 homeless and at-risk veterans, which is why the veterans community continues to work closely with Senator Brown so we can get to the point where no veteran falls through the cracks.”
Under the bill, the three southern counties would apply for funding by proposing locations for veterans homeless shelters.
“I appreciate Senator Brown fighting for Atlantic County’s fair share of resources for our local veterans and their families,” said Bob Frolow, Vietnam veteran and Atlantic County’s Veterans Service Officer. “Helping veterans off the street makes it easier to provide them other services they need to get back on their feet, like proper medical treatment and assistance finding a job.”
“Senator Brown recognizes his military service didn’t end when he left the Army and still fights along side his brothers and sisters in uniform,” said Fred Vineyard, 1st Vice Commander, AMVETS Post 911.
Charlie Callahan, Vice-Commander of Somers Point VFW Post 2189 said, “Our members, whether they served in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, or Afghanistan, rest easy knowing Senator Brown has our back and will leave no veteran behind.”
The bill now heads to the Assembly for further consideration.