As a Vietnam veteran, I experienced firsthand the negative impact on veterans who returned from that war, lacking support and appreciation from the nation that sent men and women into battle. For many, it resulted in a lifelong struggle to reconcile their experiences with a return to an unwelcoming civilian life and the alienation that followed.
Fortunately, our nation has been much more supportive and receptive to veterans of our current wars and conflicts; many in the community have stepped up to aid and lend a helping hand where needed. Like most veterans, I share a committed desire to ensure that our current generation of veterans has access to the benefits and assistance they have earned through their service to our country.
There are many areas of support needed by surviving veterans of all generations:
- physical health care
- access to mental health services
- housing and employment assistance
- a pathway back into civilian life at the time of transition from military service
I have been privileged to work since 2008 to assist veterans experiencing homelessness. A small group of homeless veterans living in a shelter in Phoenix banded together, forming a self-help group, with the motto “Veterans Helping Veterans”. A year later, Madison Street Veterans Association opened the Veterans Outreach Center, a day drop-in center for homeless veterans. The following year, in 2010, we opened MANA (Marines, Army, Navy, Air force) House, a 50-bed transitional living center for veterans experiencing homelessness. MANA House not only provides food and lodging, but also supportive services to assist veterans with employment, education, housing, and access to healthcare and benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Two years ago, MANA House and our Veterans Outreach Center became a program of Catholic Charities Community Services, which provides veteran support in Maricopa, Yavapai and Coconino counties. Currently Catholic Charities is renovating a new site for MANA House, as the current location owner, Banner Health, will use the leased facility for new projects.
Today, community members toured the site of the new MANA House. This new facility will be able to help more veterans…
It is really a privilege and an honor to have the support of Catholic Charities Community Services, to ensure that the work of MANA House continues to provide quality services to veterans, and to help grow the organization as the need increases for service and support to our current and future returning veterans.
Very often veterans who have lived for a time at MANA House will return to express their appreciation for the services and support they received while at MANA House — stories about successful employment, affordable housing, and reconciliation with family and community.
Those of us who work day to day with veterans in our program treasure these words of gratitude, and are thankful that we can make a difference in the lives of so many veterans who otherwise might be living on the streets, in the desert, or in the back alleyways of our community. I implore others to take an interest in the well being of veterans. It is not uncommon for many of us to know or be related to a veteran that has risked their lives for the good of our nation. To care and become involved is truly a mission with a higher purpose, with results we can all be proud of.
By Terry Araman, a Vietnam Army veteran and found of Madison Streets Veterans Association and MANA House, which is now part of Catholic Charities Community Services.
MANA House hires new program manager
Danelle King, an Army veteran, is the new senior program manager for MANA House (Marines, Army, Navy, Air Force). The program provides individualized basic resources, community and advocacy for veterans experiencing homelessness.
“I’m thrilled to be part of such a unique program that was formed by veterans to help fellow veterans find stable housing and turn their lives around,” explains King.
She comes to MANA House after spending time at CASS (Central Arizona Shelter Services), as a Veteran Support Specialist before being promoted to Veterans Program Manager. King then spent time at UMOM New Day Centers in their Rapid Rehousing program as a Housing Stability Coordinator.
“The staff that works at MANA House is the most passionate group of people I have ever worked with. They truly want to help fellow veterans find their way out of homelessness and remain stable after finding housing. I look forward to working together as a team to develop and implement new practices that will assist our staff in their professional growth while helping to best serve our veterans.”
King graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Superior with a bachelor’s degree in Sustainable Management and has a master’s degree in Social Justice and Community Development from Loyola University-Chicago.