Veterans check out the service providers at last week's events.
Homeless vets get meal and assistance at local event
BY TODD LUCK
enjoyed a meal and a
chance to connect with
services at the Operation
Corps event held Thursday,
Nov. 5, at American Legion
Op Corps was started
by two local Veterans
Affairs employees. Doc
Digsby and Clarice
McNeil, who are both
Marine Corps veterans. It's
the third time the duo has
heltf the luncheon and
resource fair for homeless
veterans. Shelters and
organizations that serve the
homeless from around the
area, not just Forsyth
County, brought their vet
erans to the outreach event,
which was sponsored by
Regional VA office.
"No man or woman
who comes home should
ever have to wonder where
their next meal is coming
from," said Digsby.
Though the City of
Winston-Salem declared an
end to veterans homeless
ness recendy, meaning vet
erans identified in the
homeless service system
get housing within a matter
of weeks, it still takes a lot
of effort to get homeless
vets back on their feet. The
VA has been a part of that
effort, said VA Veterans
Service Center Manager
Doug Chapman. The VA
has homeless coordinators
that work with local shel
ters to identify veterans and
help get them into housing.
Homeless veterans also
have expedited claims that
are processed within 75
"No veteran should be
homeless," said Chapman.
VA staff served veter
ans a meal donated by
Golden Corral on
University Parkway. The
VA was also offering
claims assistance, flu shots.
tional rehabilitation and
other services to the vets.
Other organizations there
included DAV, a disabled
veterans non-profit that co
sponsored the event;
Veterans of Foreign Wars;
Goodwill Industries' mili
tary and veterans employ
ment program Operation:
GoodJobs; and the state's
veteran services, NC4Vets.
U.S. Rep. Alma Adams'
outreach director, Earline
Parmon, was also there.
Veterans Heal (VHVH), a
transitional housing facility
for homeless veterans,
brought several of its cur
rent residents to the event.
VHVH offers case man
agement and a variety of
services to veterans staying
in its 24-bed facility to
make sure they can become
self-sufficient again and
stay that way. The average
length of stay is eight
months and vets can stay
there up to two years.
Coast Guard Veteran
Michael Hall was among
those staying at VHVH
who were at Wednesday's
event. He said that he
arrived there a couple
months after being incar
cerated for a probation vio
lation. During his incarcer
ation he lost everything and
had no place to go once
released. He was grateful
to find services that heljied
"It's been a blessing to
be there and get the help
that they're providing," he
Army Vet. Joe
Haggerty, who is also stay
ing at VHVH, said he
learned about Goodwill's
services at the event and
plans to take them up on
offers for clothing, job
interviews and truck driver
Haggerty has been
homeless since he was laid
off from his job as an exec
utive at Parade magazine in
2011, after a long career
working on the business
side of the newspaper
industry. He said the com
bination of losing his job
and his wife through
divorce at the same time
proved too much for him.
Depression and alcohol
abuse prevented him from
causing him to lose every
thing. He's stayed with
friends, moving every cou
ple months when he'd
worn out their patience.
He said at first he was
worried about going to a
facility for homeless vets,
but instead found himself
impressed by VHVH's
facility, services and the
vets staying there, which
he says are helping him
tremendously. He said he
was also touched by the
reception he got at the Op
"It's a humbling experi
ence, to walk in and be
honored by the friendliness
of the people," he said,
adding that everyone there
made him feel accepted.
M ? I
New N.C. secretary: 'We're serious about our veterans'
USMC Major General (ret.) Cornell Wilson Jr., is sworn in as N.C. secretary of
the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.
BY TODD LUCK
The man who was over 81,000
Marines and civilians is now over a new
Cabinet-level department and says the
N.C. Department of Military and Veterans
Affairs is committed to veterans.
USMC Major General (ret.) Cornell
Wilson Jr. was sworn in last month as sec
retary of the state's new Department of
Military and Veterans Affairs.
Wilson has been Gov. Pat McCrory's
Military Affairs advisor since October
2013. He now has a cabinet-level position
that leads the new department that serves
the military and veterans. Wilson served
in the Marine Corps from 1972 to 2010,
climbing in rank until he became
Commanding General of U.S. Marine
Forces, Southern Command, which covers
the Caribbean and South America.
He oversaw a $1.5 billion budget and
81 jOOO Marines and civilians.
Wilson said the new department, which
has about 100 employees on staff, demon
strates the state's commitment to veterans.
"It all says a lot about North Carolina,"
he said. "We're serious about our military,
serious about our veterans."
The department serves a sizable popu
lation. North Carolina has the fourth
largest military presence in the country
with IOOjOOO active duty military person
nel, along with those serving in the
National Guard and Reserves. The state
has almost 800,000 veterans, giving it the
nation's eighth largest veterans population.
Wilson said the department will work
to resolve issues involving military bases
and their surrounding communities. For
example, it will try to ensure windmills or
tall buildings don't impede the flight paths
around military bases, interfering with
their ability to train. He said North
Carolina did well in the latest Base
Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process
and wants to make sure bases continue to
perform vfrell so they won't be considered
for closure in any future rounds of BRAC.
"We think we're in pretty good shape
in North Carolina, but we still want to
make sure we do everything we can to
improve the military value of the installa
tions, so if a BRAC does come around,
we're in good shape," he said.
The existing Veterans Affairs division
is now under the new department.
NC4Vets, as the state's veterans affairs is
known, provides services and referrals to
veterans, such as helping them with their
federal Veterans Affairs claims. It also pro
vides a comprehensive guide of veterans
resources available online and in print.
Wilson said North Carolina has made
strides to help veterans, including offering
in-state college tuition to veterans. The
state also implemented a pilot program.
NC Military Pipeline, to help those transi
tioning fiom military to civilian life find
jobs. The state is offering them training,
job search assistance and letting them
count their military experience toward
"There are employers looking to hire
veterans but they're not quite sure how to
do it, so we put programs in place to bridge
that gap," he said.
Wilson said the department will be
working with the American Legion and
other veterans organizations to find and
solve veterans issues.
Those who need assistance from the
state's Veterans Affairs division can call
844-NC4-VETS or visit nc4vets.com.
and Chuck Young
BENTON CONVENTION J
NOVEMBER 21-22,2015 d