Chad Cheshire served in the military for nine years, but when he left, he became homeless. His situation motivated him to help veterans like himself who needed support following their exit from the military. Veterans make up 20 – 25% of the homeless population in our country, and many of them struggle with mental health as well. As the program director of homeless and prevention services for veterans at VOA Southeast, Chad’s goal is to help his fellow veterans navigate post-military life, connecting them with life-saving resources like affordable housing and job opportunities.
One of Chad’s main goals it to find veterans housing. However, this has posed a great challenge following the COVID-19 pandemic. As rent has gone up, and inventory is limited, it is more difficult now than ever to connect veterans with housing that is both safe and affordable in their communities. Fortunately, VOA Southeast has grants to find homes for veterans as well as reintegrate them back into society, helping them with interview preparation, employer networking and job placement.
The impact of VOA Southeast in homeless and veteran communities is life changing. Most staff Chad works with are veterans themselves or have family members that are veterans. Housing is their number one priority, but they also prioritize wraparound services for veterans, helping them transition back into society as best as they can.
Mental health is a huge priority for VOA Southeast veteran programs as well. Many veterans struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or self-medicating after leaving the military. Many live paycheck to paycheck, worrying about where their next meal will come from. Thanks to Chad and VOA Southeast, veterans can find a permanent home, connecting them to mental health resources and the community, so they can live healthier, longer lives.