Friends learn about services available to local veterans

« Austintown Neighbors


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Neighbors | Jessica Harker.Members of the Friends of the Austintown library welcomed speaker Robert Marcus to address the group about services available homeless veterans.

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Neighbors | Jessica Harker.Deborah Liptak, the Development Director of the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County, addressed the Friends of the Austintown Library after the presentation by Robert Marcus.

By JESSICA HARKER

jharker@vindy.com

The Friends of the Austintown Library recently hosted Robert Marcus who presented on resources available to local veterans.

Marcus is an employee with the US Department of Veterans Affairs and works with veterans in both Mahoning and Trumball county.

“My job and responsibility is to hook them up with somewhere to stay and the help they need,” Marcus said.

Marcus has been working with veterans for 11 years.

He grew up in Cleveland and was raised in Ohio, coming from a family of service members he saw first hand the need for veterans services.

Marcus works out of the Community Research and Referral center where veterans can go to get the resources they need.

During the presentation Marcus talked about the services that were available to veterans who are not dishonorably discharged.

“Say a veteran calls me today with no where to go, no income and no support system. It’s my job to get them what they need,” Marcus said.

He said that a huge problem veterans face every day is that they can’t afford housing. To combat this issue Marcus said that the Housing and Urban Development organization partners with the VA to help get these veterans vouchers for housing.

The VA pays HUD for the vouchers and as long as the veteran can pay 30 percent of the rent they can keep the voucher as long as they need.

Marcus said that after a year veterans are eligible to transfer their voucher to other parts of the country where they have openings, giving them the freedom to move around and maintain housing.

“These are the benefits of the HUD voucher program,” Marcus said. “It really is an excellent program.”

Marcus said that the VA also has case workers who work with veterans once they are housed to be sure all their needs are met.

“Case workers will visit them, take them to doctors appointments or if they need to go shopping,” Marcus said.

The VA will also help veterans who suffer from mental health or substance abuse problems once they are housed.

“It’s really really good,” Marcus said. “Helps them get housed and find work, and take care of their other needs.”

The organization also offers assistance to veterans who can’t work, whether or not their injury occurred while they served.

Veterans with service connection injuries are compensated for their inability to work. If a veteran can’t work because of an injury that can not be directly traced to their time serving, they will still be able to receive assistance.

Along with these programs and emergency housing options, Marcus also sited homeless shelters for both men and women that help veterans with no where to go.

After his presentation members of the Friends of the Austintown library asked Marcus questions, including how they can best assist local veterans in need.

Marcus said that the main need is in transportation and that bus passes are a huge help to getting veterans to the services they need.

“We really have a need,” Marcus said. “We want them to get out, we want them to get help and live independently.”

For more information about the services available to local veterans, call 877-424-3838.

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