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Friday, 21 October 2016 10:16
Vet Services Seek Boost from Inaugural Veterans Ball
BALLSTON SPA — VETHELP, (Veterans Housing, Employment and Lifeskills Programs) is hosting its first gala-style fundraiser on Saturday, October 29 from 6 to 10 p.m. at the New York State Military Museum. There will be live music, cash bar, food tasting, and silent auction items. The theme is the 50’s, but attire is cocktail or military. All donations raised for the Veterans Ball go directly to VETHELP. Cheryl Hage-Perez, executive director of the Saratoga County Rural Preservation Company which runs the VETHELP programs, is very grateful for the tremendous support of the community over the years, but said that with rising costs and seriously needed building repairs, they decided it was time to start a large annual event to provide funds for costs the existing generosity and grants cannot meet. The vital services offered by the programs help veterans such as Eddie, 61, (last name withheld for privacy), who is a Vietnam era veteran who served in the 82nd airborne division of the U.S. Army from 1973-76. He was trained and ready to jump out of planes and into a hot zone behind enemy lines to secure the area for incoming forces. He went into training straight out of high school and remembered, “There was a sergeant with a big boot who helped you scoot out the door. It was good for me, I was a young man and it was an opportunity for me to transition from being a young man into being a man, with all the responsibilities and things that come with it.” But once it was over, he had numerous struggles and finally succumbed to alcoholism. “I wasn’t living up to my part to be honest with you,” said Eddie, “and my sister helped me find help. You might not like the person so much, but you gotta love the vet, and being here kinda reinitiated in me the proudness I had when I served. The condition when I came in was I had to be sober, just treat each day as a new day. They gave me the blueprint and it’s up to the individual to make it work for them. They teach you life skills and everything here. There’s a lot that the counselors do; they are there for you all the time. There’s a lot of camaraderie in the house; we support each other. I’ve been sober for 10 months, since December 21 when I arrived here.” VETHELP is a program whose mission is to serve the needs of homeless military veterans by empowering them to embrace and maintain independent living and self-sufficiency. VETHELP operates two facilities that provide transitional housing for 11 females and 12 males. The housing provides residents with a comfortable living environment to address the complex factors affecting their homelessness. Job loss, alcoholism, substance abuse, lack of access to health care, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), military sexual trauma, and other hardships are struggles that these veterans have encountered following their release from the military. As a part of the Veterans Ball fundraiser, VETHELP is also offering an oportunty to Honor a Veteran by purchasing an Honor Guard Sponsorship in the program, listing the name of the Veteran you wish to honor or remember. They are $100 each, and to order or find out more, call Mianna at 518-885-0091 x 101. For more information about VETHELP or the Veterans Ball, visit www.vethelpny.org.