Area officials and outreach centers plan to step up their efforts to ensure their needs are met when when they return. Eyewitness News reporter Rachel Polansky spoke with a veteran and veteran resource center representative.
Each year thousands of service members transition from military life to civilian life. The transition is hard enough but some also come home to unfortunate circumstances leaving them on the battlefield of hunger or even homelessness. Area and federal organizations are preparing for the influx of returning veterans. In fact, the veteran skills to jobs act was signed into law today by President Obama
"My situation was I was homeless, outreach center helped me find a place, and feed our vets helped me find a job," says Rodney Yearby, returning veteran.
"Unfortunately a lot of returning veterans do return to circumstance that are unsatisfactory to them - maybe broken home, no job," says Teresa Fava-Schram, Program Director at CNY Veteran's Outreach Center.
But Central New York Veterans Outreach Center is there to help returning vets.
"We do have a donation room filled with furnishings, household goods, clothing, medical equipment. We also have veterans homelessness prevention programs allows us to serve qualified veterans with up to 18 months assistance," says Fava-Schram.
"They have can drives, food drives, clothes, benefits anything you need. If a vet is disabled, they will drive and pick you up, bring you here, get your food and bring you back home," says Yearby.
There are approximately 200,000 servicemen and women that rejoin the workforce each year.
Representative Richard Hanna says we should take care of our nation's vets through ensuring their skills are recognized and put use.
"They do have skills that they were using out in a combat zone but they can be worthwhile. They do have something to bring to the table, to a potential employer," says Fava-Schram.
Under the new veteran skills to jobs act, it will be easier for veterans to find jobs using skills acquired through military training. The bill streamlines the federal certification process and it helps vets with their transition.
"It makes me feel good I'm a veteran, to see people care like that, just makes me glad I joined the service," says Yearby.
There is a week-long care drive to collect donations for area veterans running today, through next Monday. If you're interested - you may bring nonperishable food and personal care goods to representative hanna's office at 258 Genesee Street in Utica. And all items will be donated to 'Feed Our Veterans,' a food pantry in Utica.