Every year, brave men and women enlist in the military, preparing to make the ultimate sacrifice for our country to defend our freedom. But so often when veterans come back from their tour, they’re faced with challenges while reintegrating into civilian life.
It’s why organizations like the New England Center and Home for Veterans (NECHV) exist. NECHV has served at-risk and homeless veterans since 1989, providing a range of services and programs such as health care, mental health counseling, housing and job placement assistance, and so much more.
A 30-Year Legacy of Helping Veterans
“The New England Center and Home for Veterans is an organization that I think was transformational in its inception,” President and CEO Andy McCawley said. “It was founded by Vietnam veterans for [other] veterans. They looked around and saw a lot of their compatriots disenfranchised and facing homelessness, and they formed to do something about that.”
NECHV’s mission is to give veterans who are at risk of homelessness the tools they need to be economically self-sufficient. They also aim to provide the resources that will enable them “to achieve successful and dignified independent living.”
Over the last 30 years, the organization has worked to fulfill this mission and it has grown to now serve over 1,500 veterans annually. It provides transitional housing and residential services to 1,000 veterans and in-home support services to more than 500 veterans in an effort to reduce homelessness. The organization also serves more than 60,000 meals to veterans in the Boston area every year.
Some of its signature programs include the Veteran 360 Program, which provides behavioral health support services to veterans with mental illness and substance use disorders. NECHV also has a Safe Haven program, which provides residential housing and on-site support services to veterans facing mental illness, serious medical issues, and substance use disorders. The VA Boston’s Healthcare for Homeless Veterans Program honored the Safe Haven Program this year with an advocacy award for its efforts to prevent homelessness among veterans.
Giving Veterans More Opportunities for Success
NECHV also provides a host of other programs, services and events, including housing support services for low-income veteran families, drug recovery and counseling programs for veterans, and support specifically tailored to the needs of female and senior veterans. The organization also recently hosted an event called Greater Boston Stand Down, which provided 645 veterans with free services from more than 100 local providers who offered health and dental care, housing assistance, legal expertise, and job placement opportunities.
In 2015, NECHV’s facilities underwent a $31 million renovation that upgraded the center’s 59 permanent living units and added 200 transitional and 38 permanent housing units. The funds also helped the center open a new, on-site Veterans Training School that now provides career and vocational programs, entrepreneurship education and training, and life skills courses in areas such as financial planning, money management, and computer fundamentals.
“Most veterans are very successful and are a great asset to our society, and we want to make sure every veteran has an opportunity for that same success,” McCawley said in a Boston Globe interview about the center’s renovation.
As a nonprofit, NECHV primarily relies on contributions and fundraising to meet its goals. It also collaborates with other local and national organizations—such as the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, Massachusetts Department of Veterans’ Services, and the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program—to give veterans the best care possible. This year, the organization raised more than $535,000 during its 17th Annual Leave No One Behind Gala, which enables NECHV to continue providing the quality, comprehensive services that so many local veterans need.
There are more than 20 million veterans living in the U.S. and while we hold their service in high esteem, especially on Veterans Day, far too often veterans don’t get the treatment and support they need when they come back home. Too many veterans face homelessness—11 percent of the homeless adult population are veterans—and we should be doing more to honor their sacrifice and service.
Every day, the New England Center and Home for Veterans is doing its part to honor their service and give them the welcome home that they deserve. Let’s all join together and do the same.