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Way Station gets money to assist homeless veterans

November 15, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN - Two federal grants will help provide housing and job assistance in Hagerstown for homeless veterans.

"These are people who have served their country, and this will allow them to continue to give to the community," said Scott Rose, president of Way Station Inc.

Way Station Inc. received two grants totaling more than $44,000 by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The grants will be used to provide transportation for veterans who have none so they can commute to work, Rose said.

The money also will be used to operate a duplex on Washington Street in Hagerstown, where homeless veterans will be able to live until they are able to find their own housing.

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Way Station Inc. provides services in four counties, including Washington and Frederick counties. It is a nonprofit mental health organization.

The program in Hagerstown will be called the "Welcoming Home" program.

"A major objective will be to support homeless veterans in employment," Rose said.

He said the goal was to have veterans working in the community within seven months to one year.

The veterans will have to pay to live in the home on Washington Street, but rent will be based on what they are able to pay.

"If they have nothing, they pay nothing," Rose said. "Hopefully, they'll be working pretty soon. Men and women who have served our country proudly, who for whatever reason may be homeless. But they certainly have the skills to be working and just need some vocational retraining or support in finding the career of their choice."

The home will be able to accommodate 10 residents.

Rose said there are more homeless veterans in the area than people might realize. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will be referring the veterans to Way Station for involvement in the program.

Rose said the age range of homeless veterans varies from older veterans who served in the Vietnam war to younger men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

"These are people who have put their lives on the line for us," Rose said. "The least we can do is help them find employment."

Rose said the program was a partnership among several agencies, including the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, at least two Maryland departments and the Washington County Gaming Commission.

Way Station's grants for this project are among 52 grants recently announced by Veterans Affairs, totaling nearly $11.6 million to public, private nonprofit and faith-based groups for programs assisting homeless veterans, according to a written release.

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