To the Editor:
Friday was a somber day at TLS Veterans. The news about Steven Dobry’s passing spread quickly. Staff immediately checked client lists – was he one of ours? What happened?
He wasn’t on any of our lists, which was even more disturbing. What happened?
When someone calls TLS Veterans with word of a homeless veteran, we mobilize a veteran staff member to go find the person. The veteran brings food and a small hygiene kit, and the intent is to affirm that this is indeed a veteran, that he/she is homeless, to inform the person about services, and to ascertain if they are interested in assistance at this time.
They may be invited to come to our drop-in resource center for a shower, something to eat and time with a certified veteran peer support specialist to sort through next steps. If the situation is high-risk and no resources are available to immediately help the person off the street, the agency may combine resources with others such as the Veterans Assistance Commission and Joe’s Wish to obtain temporary relief.
If the veteran is interested in housing, the agency has options: the transitional living program (New Horizons) in Hebron, the rapid rehousing program (SSVF) and the supportive housing program funded by HUD/McHenry County CDBG/Wells Fargo. The peer support specialists will connect the veteran with the Veterans Assistance Commission to determine any benefits that might be available.
Once the housing path is addressed, the focus shifts to bridging from a place of struggle to a place of strength. The Veterans Community Action Team will deliver furniture/food/household items to make the house a home. Employment, counseling and additional case management services will be provided to make sure needs are met.
The veteran is connected with other veterans through the Outdoors Program and groups at the drop-in resource center. Other agencies contribute their resources and areas of expertise as needed.
Each time we hear of a veteran death, our first question is did they know about us? What could we have done? We wish we had known about this veteran, to have had the chance to assist if possible. We need the community’s help in spreading the word about our services.
Rest in peace, Dobry, and thank you for your service. Please visit TLS Veterans at 5330 W. Elm St. in McHenry, or on Facebook/Instagram. For information, call 815-679-6667 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Laura Franz, Executive director TLS Veterans