Nonprofit gets federal grant to aid homeless, formerly incarcerated veterans

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Arizona Women's Education and Employment, a nonprofit that provides job-support services for veterans, received a $255,000 grant to continue a program that will aid at least 100 veterans. (Matt Longdon/DD)

Arizona Women’s Education and Employment has received a $255,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to fund support services for homeless and formerly incarcerated veterans in Arizona.

The grant will be used to continue a program that will serve at least 100 veterans who have been previously incarcerated, said Kerri Schultheis-Barnes, the project director.

The money also will help veterans apply their military skills to civilian jobs and continue the group’s goal of ending veteran homelessness, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis said in a statement.

“Americans who have served their country should not find themselves without a home,” Solis said.

The grant is one of 90 that were awarded through the Department of Labor’s Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program, which also provides aid for homeless veterans. AWEE was one of three nonprofit organizations in Arizona to receive a grant.

“There’s a large number of veterans out of work, and that’s our primary area of focus,” Schultheis-Barnes said.

AWEE offers veterans job-readiness workshops, mentoring, help with family relationships, job-related expenses and education referrals, according to its website.

“(The grant) will be used for continuing everything geared toward getting them into the community,” Schultheis-Barnes said.

AWEE has been serving Arizona since 1981. The organization primarily serves women.

“We’re always responsive to the community,” Schultheis-Barnes said. “We respond to that need.”

Debbie Davis, a veteran who received assistance from AWEE, heard about the program after she ended up staying at a U.S. Vets transitional-living area.

“I was in a situation where I needed to renew my resume,” said Davis, who was living and working on a military base full time. “AWEE helped to incorporate skills from the military to a resume for the civilian world.”

Davis also participated in interview classes to prepare for job searching.

With help from AWEE, Davis found a job in the biomedical field. During her time in the military, she worked in the medical field in medical supply and in other capacities.

“I was never incarcerated, but I ended up temporarily having to stay in transitional living,” Davis said. “I was homeless and dealing with PTSD.”

Davis said that the situation made it even more difficult to try to put together a resume and search for a job.

“It was nice to have some help,” she said. “They do a really good service.”

Contact the reporter at alabril@asu.edu