Clear Path To Provide Services for Veterans in Methuen, Lawrence, and Haverhill


Randy Carter and Jason Gilbert from Clear Path for Veterans New England (in Devens) held a public meeting at the Methuen VFW last month to announce a $205,000 grant to service veterans in Lawrence, Methuen, and Haverhill.

Clear Path’s announcement came at just the right time with the closing of Veterans Northeast Outreach (VNOC) in Haverhill. VNOC has been evicting veterans from housing all over the valley, and canceling food delivery programs after misspending millions of dollars in government grants.


The Valley Patriot first reported on the misdeeds of VNOC in February of 2020 after founder John Ratka passed away and North Andover’s Ed Mitchell took over, firing veterans and hiring his friends who were all civilians. Mitchell so poorly managed the organization in his short time at VNOC that they never recovered.

“Our goal is to set up shop here in Methuen and we are looking for a physical location right now that will be convenient for local veterans to visit,” Carter said. “We are not new to this area by any stretch,” he continued. “

“Jason Gilbert, our Chief Operating Officer, and I were handing out food boxes during the pandemic up at the loop. We have been helping veterans in this area for about 15 years now. Myself, Jason and Yanitza worked at another agency (VNOC) before we came to Clear Path, so the Merrimack Valley is home to all of us.”

Carter said that Haverhill, Lawrence, Lowell, Fitchburg, and Leominster are the hardest hit areas for veterans in need of services.
“So, of course what are we going to do? We are going to come home right here in Methuen.”

Carter is a Methuen resident.

“So, who are we? Clear Path for Veterans New England is basically a one stop shop for any veteran who comes to our door.”

“If they need a claim done, if they need a service dog, we can help with that. We have a culinary program. We help with getting veterans social security and unemployment. We are helping with home repairs, child care, groceries, whatever a veteran needs that people don’t often think of as a veteran issue, we are here for them. Basically, whatever the veteran needs we are going to be there.”

Carter said that there are veterans who may not be ready to go to the city’s Veterans Service Officer. “So, they can come to us and when they are ready, we have done the groundwork to make his job easier.”

“For me, the worst thing you can do is screw with a veteran by putting them off and putting them in a predicament that’s going to frustrate them and make them want to give up. We don’t want that anymore here in Methuen. We are seeing too much of that and we are here to say, the days of veterans not getting what they deserve and need in Methuen are over.”

Carter said that they are working on three housing projects right now.

“We have one in Devens, Billerica, and Tewksbury. We want to replicate that here in Methuen because Methuen needs housing. And I know we have Councilors Zeigler, Faretra, and Rep. Ryan Hamilton here so I’m going to repeat that. Methuen needs housing.”

“We also need veterans to let us know what their specific needs are and that’s why we are here at the VFW tonight. I know what I needed, and it took me actually working in a veteran’s agency to figure out how to get it. So, now we are looking to hire peer counselors and case managers. We are looking to hire veterans who know the people in this area and know what the needs are to help us accomplish our mission.”

The grant we just received was $205,000 to assist with outreach in the Merrimack Valley. We can make that last. We can stretch that. We can use this money for helping a veteran get into rehab, housing, helping with debt and past bills, and getting them into an education or vocational programs.

“People come to us and offer free training and employment for veterans. We have some great partners in that area and of course we need more of that. For example, we have a machine shop in Maynard who is willing to train and hire any veteran we send them for $22 an hour.”

State Rep. Ryan Hamilton who represents Methuen and Haverhill said that Clear Path’s announcement was perfectly timed.

“This meeting is very timely because someone just asked me, ‘what is your biggest complaint about the City of Methuen?’ My complaint was, it feels like sometimes that if things aren’t getting done by City Hall, people fall through the cracks.”

“As far as I’m concerned, one veteran falling through the cracks is one too many. So, I wanted to come stand in front of all of you tonight and tell Randy and Jason that I am committed to help you get any funding that you need. More funding means that you can hire more people to service more veterans. That means you can build more housing, here in the City of Methuen.”

“It’s unfortunate that one of our veteran groups in Haverhill is closing down. So, there’s going to be an even greater need for our veterans here in the valley. I’m so happy to see Randy and Jason and everyone at Clear Path stepping up and continuing to help.”

Councilors Joel Faretra and Eunice Zeigler were also on hand to pledge their support for Clear Path.

Also invited were Methuen Mayor Neil Perry and East District

Councilor Steve Saba who did not attend.

To contact Clear Path to help a veteran in need or to for veterans and their families who need help you can call (978) 384-8800 or email