By: Beth D’Amato – December, 2016
HAVERHILL, MA – On any given day, you will find Randy Carter of the Veterans Northeast Outreach Center (VNOC) out buying groceries for local veterans, counseling a newly discharged vet about health care, or meeting with local politicians to try and get more resources dedicated to helping local veterans in need.
Carter and the other staff members at Veterans Northeast Outreach Center provide exceptional services for local veterans who have nowhere else to turn.
Located on 10 Reed Street in Haverhill, VNOC was established in 1985 as a private, non-profit organization. Their mission is to provide a variety of services to assist, support, and advocate for veterans and their families. The center is funded, in part, through contracts with the Department of Veterans Affairs, MA Department of Veterans Services, US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development and private donations.
Administration fees to pay for staff comes from grants allowing 100% of all private donations to go directly to the veterans.
Carter is the Projects / Programs Manager at VNOC and he is also a combat veteran. Carter joined the Army in 1983 and served until 1992. He joined the Air Force in 1992 and retired in 2007.
He was deployed to the Middle East three times in support of Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom. Along the way, he was given numerous awards and medals for his service. Carter was honorably discharged as a Tech. Sergeant from the USAF and a Sergeant in the U.S. Army.
According to Carter, 90% of the staff at the Outreach Center are veterans, 80% are combat vets, and 60% are disabled veterans. He says that being a veteran lends a special understanding and expertise in dealing with those veterans who have unique issues like PTSD that others may have a hard time relating to.
The organization offers an array of counseling services to help assist all Veterans and their family members. Vets in these programs are not your stereotypical WWII aging Veteran but instead a group of young men and women who were recently discharged and facing combat and non-combat physical and psychological issues.
Carter also said that many of the newer veterans are homeless (some with children) living in the street or in their vehicles, not even knowing there is a place like VNOC they can reach out to. “When children are involved it makes the situation more urgent,” he said. That’s when the staff at the Outreach Center will act quickly by contacting local landlords to arrange three to six months worth of rent to be paid up-front.
During this transition period the children are safely off the streets while the veteran-parent is undergoing treatment and/or job training through the Outreach Program. Carter also highlighted the difficulties in placing homeless female veterans (with or without children).
Carter says that Veteran facilities are populated only by men, and that adding women to the facility is not in the best interest of the vets or the staff, especially if veterans in the facility are suffering from PTSD or other illnesses. Other arrangements are made by the center to accommodate female veterans and their unique requirements. Carter says this is critical as all veterans need to feel safe and at ease in order for them to begin the healing process.
nside the remodeled church at 10 Reed St. is the activity center, which is a day program among the most unique of all VNOC programs. There, veterans are provided a structured environment where all vets, including disabled vets, can participate in recreational activities, work training, group support and other activities that are both satisfying and challenging.
There is also a food pantry available where food and clothing donations take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 10am-2pm. If there is a veteran and family in need, the staff at VNOC will make special arrangements to assist them immediately.
It’s a friendly space for the vets to gather together and share a meal and play a game of billiards. This program is funded, in part, through the US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development.
The Outreach Center offers employment services which are provided by Career Resources Corporation and Valley Works Career Center. Services include job training, resume preparation, career assistance and job placement. The employment team works hard to assist Veterans within our local communities in every way possible. The ultimate goal is to help veterans get a job and have a safe place of their own to call home.
Veterans Northeast Outreach Center received a $2,000,000 Renewal Grant for the program called: Supportive Services for Veterans Families (SSVF). This grant helps veterans trying to get housing or in imminent risk of losing housing. VNOC is dedicated to helping end veterans homelessness. SSVF provides personal outreach and case management services and will assist participants to obtain VA benefits and other public benefits.
Also, through the SSVF Program, the VA aims to improve very low-income Veteran families’ housing stability.
The following housing properties are owned and run by the Outreach Center. The first housing unit is the Veterans Mansion. The mansion serves twenty two homeless veterans that offers a supportive and working environment as they make their way back into society.
The second one is the Veterans Campus – this housing facility added 25 VA Grant Per Diem housing units in Haverhill, MA. Next is Bedford Veterans – this facility is located on the campus of the Bedford VA Medical Center. It is a sixty unit facility that offers the services of both the VA Medical Center and VNOC.
The next facility is ONeill Hall in Haverhill – this property was built in 2003 to add ten permanent affordable rental units to the Veterans Campus. Finally there is *Freedom House which is located in North Andover. This complex provides housing for three North Andover Veteran families.
Along with all the benefits and services offered to our veterans, the VNOC staff also hosts holiday parties, outings and other events all through the year for veterans and their families.
Thank you to Randy Carter and all the staff at VNOC for not only going off to serve our country abroad but for making the lives of returning veterans a little better here at home as well.
To contribute or learn more about this non-profit organization, please visit: northeastveterans.org
Beth D’Amato is the Chairman of the Waltham Republican City Committee and a frequent contributor to The Valley Patriot. You can email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org