DOVER — Larence Kirby, executive director of the Delaware Commission of Veterans Affairs, addressed the Delaware Veterans Coalition bi-monthly meeting in Kitts Hummock on May 22.
Mr. Kirby explained the multi-faceted role of the commission and its oversight of the Delaware Veterans Home in Milford and the state’s two veterans cemeteries in New Castle and Sussex counties.
“Of Delaware’s 78,000 veterans about 25,000 are Gulf-war era,” he said, “and we are increasingly focusing on their needs as well as on those of our older veterans.”
Mr. Kirby spends many evenings addressing organizations about the commission. He explained that during the past three years its outreach has increased in four areas for recent veterans: Employment; Housing assistance; Mental health services; and Educational opportunities. The Delaware Veterans Trust Fund is also under the Commission, which provides grants to veterans in emergency financial need.
The commission’s 15 members are appointed by Delaware’s governor for a term of three years. They are affiliated with statewide veterans organizations and include several at-large members. Mr. Kirby also addressed the need for more recent era and female Commissioner applicants. Visit www.veteransaffairs.delaware. gov for more information.
The Delaware Veterans Coalition, established in 2011, is a non-partisan, non-profit, volunteer organization that lobbies with elected and other officials on behalf of all generations of Delaware’s veterans. Membership is open to all honorably- discharged veterans residing in Delaware. It meets at 7 p.m. at FOP Lodge #3, Kitts Hummock, on the fourth Monday of every other month beginning in January. Its next meeting will be July 24. Visit www.DelawareVeteransCoalition.com for more information.
At its Jan. 30 meeting, the Delaware Veterans Coalition appointed Jason Stewart as its Kent County representative. Mr. Stewart, a U.S. Army veteran who served in Iraq, lives in Camden and is a medical program student at Delaware Technical College’s Owens Campus. He is past president of the college’s Veterans Inspiring Progress, a nationally recognized student veteran organization formed to provide military veterans and services members with the resources, support, and advocacy needed to succeed in higher education and subsequent employment. It is open to every veteran and service member, including the National Guard. “We welcome Jason to the Coalition. His experience, training and dedication will be tremendous assets as we continue our outreach to all generations of the state’s veterans, including active duty, National Guard, recently discharged, and retired,” said Coalition President Dave Skocik. The coalition is a statewide, non-profit, 501(c)(3) lobbying organization that advocates with elected and appointed public officials on issues that affect all generations of Delaware veterans. Membership is open to all honorably discharged veterans residing in Delaware. Meetings are open to veterans regardless of membership.
In the presence of representatives from the Commission of Veterans Affairs, legislators and veteran organizational representatives, Gov. Jack Markell signed HB 80, aka the Stolen Valor Act, into law on Tuesday, August 9, 2016.
The Delaware Veterans Coalition communicated its support for the bill to every legislator prior to the vote. Dave Skocik, president of the Veterans Coalition, with Gov. Markell displaying a pen used to sign the bill.
Victory Village has opened its doors to veterans in Middletown, Delaware. The property, which can house up to 30 male homeless veterans and provide service for many more, is a project of the National Veterans Assistance Coalition.
NVAC is a dedicated professional group of staff and volunteers focused on helping veterans receive the benefits and services they have justifiably earned and to provide housing and support services that enhance their personal and professional development.
The center will be a one stop Veterans resource center, including those transitioning back from military life. They are partnering with schools to offer training, including a woodworking shop, auto mechanics, and computer programming.
Training will also include resume writing training and help preparing for interviews. Counseling and social workers will also be available through local resource agencies.
“The Center is located in a 175-year-old mansion at 554 Port Penn Road, Middletown, that has a long and rich history of providing housing and life enhancing services. After a complete renovation of the building and grounds, the Center is proud to open its doors to our veterans,” said founding member Rick Hagar.
The project began in March 2014 and will be a national model, according to Mr. Hagar who, along with co-founder Tyler Andrews also operates four homes in North Carolina. They have been invited by representatives from various cities around the country to talk about their program and the potential of open homes. Potential sites include Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida, Arizona, and plans are already under way to open a second home in Delaware.
Future development plans include converting the caretaker’s home behind the facility to house as many as a dozen female residents.
“We are so grateful to the many individuals and organizations who have volunteered their time and resources to help get us to this point. We would also like to thank all those from the State of Delaware and from New Castle County who have worked with us to ensure our opening was made possible,” said Mr. Hagar. “We look forward to helping as many veterans as possible, as we provide them the housing and resources to enable them to strive for a brighter future.”