County and state-run programs will receive up to $150,000 to support veteran outreach initiatives, court programs and other services designed to help veterans in need or those transitioning to civilian life.
The Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs made up to $550,000 available to service organizations through a grant process called the Veterans Trust Fund, officials announced last week.
The remainder, up to $400,000, will go to veteran service non-profit organizations. The grants are designed to help combat veteran homelessness and treat post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as develop workforce and employment opportunities for veterans.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, there are more than 900,000 veterans in Pennsylvania.
Benjamin Stahl, director of programs and operations at the Veteran Leadership Program of Western Pennsylvania, which provides housing, employment and other services for veterans, said those funds could greatly support his non-profit's programs.
“These are funds that will help to establish the infrastructure, to ensure that you don’t see homeless veterans, so that we have this problem under control," he said. "And, as well as to ensure that there are jobs for veterans to come home to.”
Stahl said that he's glad the money will not be spent entirely at the state level, instead allowing for local organizations to focus on their own veterans' regional problems.
The Veterans Trust offers a broader opportunity for organizations to address specific needs within their community, Stahl said, "not just what a removed bureaucrat thinks are the needs." Statewide, service organizations have received more than $830,000 in grants since its the fund was established in 2012.
Grant applications are due by 4 p.m. Feb. 5, and the awards will be given out sometime in late March.