Veterans Committee Meeting Minutes
June 30, 2017


In attendance:  Beth Barbara, Veterans Inc, Dan Boyea, Hampden County Sheriff, Steve Connor, Central Hampshire Veterans Services, David Felty, SAVE, Keegan Hersey, Veterans Inc, Netshari Ortiz, Soldier On, Katherine Person, Veterans Inc, Pamela Schwartz, Network 

Hampden County By-Name List Update:

As reported via email by Gerry McCafferty: 13 homeless veterans, plus any veterans who are in transitional housing at 52 Maple Court, which is operated by the Bilingual Veterans Outreach Center.  We do not have good data or regular updates on the people staying there. Of the 13 veterans we know about:

  • 9 are in shelter and 4 are unsheltered
  • 4 are chronically homeless
  • Eligibility status: 1 is VHA eligible (individual had VASH and did not use it; plan is to apply for Soldier On Agawam housing; 4 are only eligible for SSVF (they are working with Vets Inc or Soldier On); 5 are not eligible for any veteran homeless/housing program; 3 eligibility status not yet known (1 is new; 2 are unsheltered in Chicopee/Holyoke and Eliot is working with them separate from by-name list meetings)

Follow-up clarifying question from group: what does it mean that 5 are not eligible for any veteran homeless/housing program.  Dishonorable discharge? Or calling themselves veterans but not in fact veterans – but if so, then why still on the list at all?  Pamela will relay to Gerry and report back.

Three County Update:

Steve Connor reported a recent disappointment that Three County’s by-name list showed that 3 new veterans were in non-veteran family shelter and there had been no referrals made to the veterans services providers. Some gaps need to be closed through staff training, especially in light of turnover.  Steve will be following up with the family provider and the 3 County CoC to see what support can be provided.  The good news is that the existence of the by-name list revealed this gap!  The group acknowledged the positive process that is underway.

Steve also reported that the the Three County CoC, through Soldier On funds, recently hired a staff person to be administer the by-name lists  This is also a very promising development.

Family Homelessness Resource Fair Debrief:

Everyone agreed that the family homelessness resource fair of 6/8/17 was a great success.  The veterans providers felt it was a great opportunity to share resources to other providers and to network more generally.  All are on board for doing it again next year.

Pamela announced the offer of space from Holyoke Community College at the Kittredge Center and the determination of a date:  Thursday, June 14, 9 am – 1 pm.  HCC has generously provided the large multi-purpose room and 4 classrooms for break-out groups. The group is looking forward to working on it next year!

Statewide Updates:

Steve reported on the collaboration between the Division of Veterans Services and the Department of Corrections.  The SAVE team is now going into the DOC to provide support services and referrals to veterans.  For Western MA, the closest state correctional facility is in Worcester; however, there are approximately 100 DOC inmates at the county jails in Western MA, so the collaboration is still relevant for Western MA.

Hampden County Sheriff efforts to identify veterans:

Dan reported the great progress in identifying veterans who are in the Hampden County Jail.  First, it was discovered that the Jail actually had SQUARES and the capacity to identify veterans – this was great (and surprising) news.  Roughly 30 veterans are currently residing in the jail system. Now that connections are being made the data is being run and veterans are being referred to Veterans Court.  Next up is getting the data on veteran inmates to the Veterans Services Officers from the appropriate area (vast majority in Ludlow, some others in Springfield and Chicopee).  Dan’s plan is to work with the VSO’s to request contact info in the service of public safety.  This should enable direct outreach and service provision within 60 days of inmates’ release.  We all acknowledged this significant progress in identifying and reaching veterans in the Hampden County jail system.

Network Outreach to new VSO’s:

It was noted that there are new VSO’s that should be invited to the Network: Jesus Ferrara in Holyoke; Stephanie Shaw in Chicopee and Lena (need last name) in Longmeadow.  Pamela will follow-up with Steve to get contact info.

Next meeting date: Friday, July 28, 9 am – 10:30 am, Northampton Senior Center

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