Drop-in support centre for veterans opens its doors in Dartmouth
VETS Canada has opened its third drop-in support centre across the country in Dartmouth.
Last year the organization opened a centre in Ottawa and one in Edmonton.
The organization was created nine years ago in Halifax with a focus on preventing homelessness among veterans.
“Everything that we’ve done in the past has been through volunteers where volunteers would go out and meet the veterans where they’re at,” said Debbie Lowther, who co-founded VETS Canada with her husband Jim Lowther.
Veterans will now have the option of coming into a physical space to get support.
“They can sit and relax and have a coffee, or, you know, soup and sandwich or whatever, and we can help them through their problems,” said Jim.
The centre will have gas and grocery cards on hand for those in need and will provide support in filling out any paperwork needed for Veterans Affairs.
WATCH: We chat with members of VETS Canada about the launch of their new drop-in and support centre and what it means for veterans is the region.
There will also be a computer on site that can be used to help with finding a job or housing.
“Basically it’s just a welcoming house that we hope veterans will come to and feel comfortable and receive support, peer support and support from our staff,” said Jim.
VETS Canada is supported in part by the federal government, but the new facility is mostly thanks to a private donation as well as funds raised through the Hockey Helps the Homeless tournament in Halifax.
Currently, there has been no offer of support by the provincial government in Dartmouth but the Edmonton location is a partnership between VETS Canada and the Alberta government.
“The plan the province had was to buy a 15-unit apartment building for transitional housing, and to have a centre similar to this to have wrap-around supports,” said Debbie.
“The province is funding it and we have two staff on site that are running the facility.”
WATCH: VETS Canada opens new drop-in and support centre in Dartmouth
The pair agree that a 15-unit apartment for transitional housing would not be needed here. They already have two units for those in need, but say they would welcome support from the province to have another two to four units.
“The majority of what we see here is the crisis and prevention piece as oppose to actual homelessness,” said Debbie.
“But what we do encounter here more regularly is situations where it’s short-term homelessness.”
In an email the Department of Intergovernmental Affairs notes that they have not received any request to help fund the project but say the “government recognizes the important work of veterans advocacy, and we are in the process of formalizing our own efforts in this area.”
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