The federal Department of Labor has awarded a $300,000 grant to Soldier On to provide employment and housing services to formerly incarcerated veterans in Eastern New York and Western Massachusetts.
DOL announced the award as part of $1.8 million in grants it funded nationally under its Incarcerated Veterans Transition Program, which targets those veterans considered at risk of becoming homeless.
“Everyone deserves a second chance, especially the men and women who have sacrificed for our country,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “The Incarcerated Veterans Transition Program opens doors for veterans who may have struggled but who want to return to America’s workforce.”
Soldier On currently serves 18 counties in Eastern New York and four counties in Western Massachusetts, largely through its Supportive Services for Veteran Families grant program from the Department of Veterans Affairs. It also provides 40 hours of weekly programming at the Albany (NY) County Correctional Facility aimed at reducing recidivism and preparing veterans to assimilate back into society. The DOL grant will enhance services to these veterans and others who are released from imprisonment and who are located in Eastern New York and Western Massachusetts.
Soldier On initiated its incarcerated veterans program at the Albany jail in October 2014 in collaboration with Sheriff Craig D. Apple. Programming includes instruction in appropriate disciplines, such as anger management, physical and mental health, substance abuse, self-discipline, and social skills.
“This DOL grant will allow Soldier On, the Albany County Sheriff’s Department, and our outreach team in Western Massachusetts and Eastern New York to provide job training, education and job readiness for veterans who are leaving incarceration and returning to life in the community,” said John F. Downing, CEO of Soldier On. “We are grateful to the DOL to allow us to partner with them to serve this special group of veterans with these services.”
“Honoring the sacrifice and service of our nation’s veterans starts with helping them succeed when they return home,” Congressman Jim McGovern (MA-02) said. “With this program, struggling veterans will get the second chance they need as they work to get back on their feet. Giving our veterans the support they need to find a good job and put a roof over their head is the least we can do. This program will make a tremendous difference for veterans in our communities and across the country. I am proud to join Secretary Perez as a partner in this important work and look forward to seeing all the good these grants will do for our veterans.”