Help out there for veterans and their families

By: 
CAROLYN DRYER, Editor

A veteran and military families resource seminar was held July 17 at Rio Vista Recreation Center in Peoria.
Peoria Senior Human Services Coordinator Debbie Pearson, gave the microphone to several individuals, who outlined the kinds of services their organizations provide to veterans and military families.
Kelly Mills, program manager for community development at the Luke Air Force Base Military and Veteran Success Center. Mills gave a statistical report about the number of student veterans who attend the 10 colleges in the Maricopa County Community College District: 5,000 to 16,000. She said most veterans are thriving, but veterans are two to four times more likely than civilians to suffer from mental and physical health problems. Veterans also experience a lack of employment options, she said, noting that 50 percent of veterans feel disconnected from their communities and most do not have access to base services after discharge.
Mills said the Military and Veteran Success Center transitions 100 to 200 military veterans and spouses each month. The West Valley location focuses on transitioning military, employment and Veterans Administration claims.
The process through the center begins with the veteran entering the transition program, going through an assessment, is paired with a success coach, a plan is developed, the veteran is handed off to various resources with regular follow-up. The result usually ends with success.
“We do the calling with them,” Mills said, but veterans are held accountable, and the center makes sure they are able to continue on their own.
The city of Surprise has the most veterans that go through the center, while Peoria is fourth.
Finances and benefits continue to be No. 1 on the requests for help, Mills said, with education next, and employment No. 3. She said those are the three biggest areas the center continues to support. In March, she said, there was a spike in family and social support. In April, she said there were almost 1,400 assessments completed.
Most West Valley cities offer funding support for the center, along with Luke Air Force Base, the 161st Air Refueling Squadron, Maricopa County Community College District and ESGR (Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve). Mills said the center would like to start a conversation with the Veterans Administration. She said the center works with other similar organization across the country. Mills can be reached at 480-384-9874, and by email at Kelly.mills@riosalado.edu.
Frank Molinar, a certified financial adviser for more than 30 years, went under contract to provide resources and training for veterans in 2007.
“Impressing on them what they needed to know — that was fun,” he said. “Financial literacy — this stuff is way too important to be boring. It impacts every area of our lives.”
In the process, he said he realized how much the military veterans needed the information he had to give, but still, to them, it was boring. So, he had to help them dismantle the challenges.
“The military has a different way of doing things,” Molinar said.
Yet, he knew for each individual and couple, he had to teach them to organize and “stop  the bleeding.” Some couples were $150 in the red each month, but one commander and his wife were bleeding out at the rate of $2,647 per month.
“We rolled up our sleeves, rolled up our pants legs, cut some stuff and we fixed it,” Molinar said.
He has met with 1,837 people and is up to 3,800 hours of counseling. He uses a military mindset, which starts with preparation in advance. He said one way to stop the bleeding is to spend half of what you make and most people will get financial dominance within 18 months.
“The problem with the American Dream is maybe we’re not dreaming big enough,” Molinar said.
He extended his offer to veterans, corporations, small or large companies for training. He can be reached at frank@richerlivesreadywarriors.org, or by phone at 480-949-3012.
Harry Miller, outreach specialist/public contact with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in Phoenix, gave a summary of the benefits veterans can receive through his office. To learn more about benefits, he said to visit https://www.ebenefits.va.gov/ebenefits/homepage. Other websites to visit are www.va.gov and www.vets.gov.

The Glendale Star

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Peoria Times

Peoria Times
7122 N. 59th Ave
Glendale, AZ 85301-2436
Ph: (623) 842-6000
Fax: (623) 842-6013

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