According to data from the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) there are approximately 19 million veterans in the US; roughly one-third of those are retired. Gulf era veterans now make up the largest share at 7.8 million. Nearly 90% of veterans are men. In Wisconsin, there are just over 350,000 veterans, 75% of which served in times of conflict.While a majority of veterans re-adjust to a post-military life without difficulty, others – nearly 44% who’ve served in Iraq and Afghanistan – noted challenges ranging from traumatic brain injuries, PTSD, depression, anxiety, substance abuse issues and thoughts of suicide. Rates of homelessness among veterans exceed those in the general population and studies suggest that the most consistent risk factors for veteran homelessness were substance use disorders and mental illness, followed by a lack of sufficient income.
Rock Valley Community Programs (RVCP) identified these concerns locally and initiated their veterans housing program in 2011 with the opening of 24 shared occupancy units. The units were later converted to single occupancy and in 2022 the agency completed renovation of additional units resulting in a total of 48 single occupancy units. Veterans served by the program are all male veterans who are considered homeless or at risk of becoming homeless and were other than dishonorably discharged. RVCP provides transitional living for up to 24 months. In addition to a sober living environment, veterans receive an array of services including mental health, substance abuse treatment, transportation, and job training. Amenities include a gym, laundry, computer resource room and a cafeteria. The program has served more than 500 veterans since 2011.
While housing drives veteran participation in the RVCP program, the sense of community developed within the program is an equally important resource. Mike C., a US Military Vet, shared, “RVCP has helped me by giving me an alternative path to my future which would have put me in prison. It’s like I got a fresh start and I don’t feel alone because there are others going through the same things as me living here as well.”
One of the core values of the Hendricks Family Foundation is honoring our country and those who serve and sacrifice to protect our communities and our freedoms. The Hendricks Family Foundation provided $75,000 to support the original project in 2011 and an additional $150,000 to complete the renovation of the second wing. It is a privilege to provide support to those who have done so much for our Country.