|Congressman Rodney P. Frelinghuysen (center) salutes the flag with Jeff Robeson, a recent veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars (right), and Kenneth Mizrach, Director of the VA NJ Healthcare System. Robeson spoke of struggling with post-traumatic stress after returning from combat and receiving the support he needed at the Hope for Veterans Program.
Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen today joined Community Hope in officiating at a special program marking the anniversary of the Hope for Veterans Program. The transitional housing facility opened five years ago as the largest program of its size and scope for homeless veterans in New Jersey. Community Hope, a private nonprofit organization, raised $650,000 to convert a vacant building at the VA campus and secured a grant from the US Department of Veterans Affairs to establish the program.
Since then, more than 400 former servicemen and women have received shelter, employment training, and case management services. With the opening of a new wing in 2008, the program serves up to 95 veterans daily.
Community Hope also unveiled proposed plans for Valley Brook Village. Together with its partners EA Fish Development and Veterans Inc., Community Hope has received conditional approval to develop a 90-unit village on a vacant parcel of land at the Lyons VA campus. The team is in the process of fulfilling the VA’s requirements for the project, which is slated to be the first sizeable permanent housing and support services development for homeless veterans and those at risk of homelessness in New Jersey. The plans for Valley Brook Village include one- and two-bedroom units suitable for seniors and handicapped veterans and a community residence for resident activities; support service staff and employment programs.
Joining in today’s event were officials from the VA New Jersey Health Care System, which provides Hope for Veterans residents with medical and behavioral healthcare services. Also attending were the private foundations and corporations, civic and veterans organizations, and the donors whose support has made the program possible.
Celebrating its 25th anniversary year, Community Hope was formed by family members and mental health professionals seeking a safe haven in the community where young adults could continue their recovery from mental illness and co-occurring substance abuse. Since then, the agency has directed its services to address the needs of veterans homeless as a result of mental illness and substance abuse. Community Hope’s residential recovery programs have expanded to serve 300 individuals daily.