Executive director of ABCCM to speak in D.C. about local success with helping homeless veterans

Photo courtesy of Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry

The Reverend Scott Rogers will speak before the Senate sub-committee on Veterans Affairs today, March 14 at 10 a.m. alongside the national coalition of homeless veterans to share their principles and practices that are producing outcomes above the national average. Rogers serves as executive director of the Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry and was invited to speak by N.C. Senator Richard Burr. Burr serves as the Ranking Member on the committee and heard about the work being done at ABCCM for homeless veterans.

However, Burr was not the only one who heard about the work being done at ABCCM.

The ABCCM’s veteran services for men and women will be recognized as one of the four best practices in the country in a May publication by the U.S. Department of Labor. One program that has been praised is the ABCCM’s Veterans Employment and Training Service (VETS) program. Rogers says the program placed 302 veterans in the workforce at a cost of about $1,000 per veteran—a number that is $1,600 less than the national average per placement. The executive director credits core principles, other local organizations and the veterans for why the program has been such a success.

“Our veterans really want to contribute back, we hear this from them over and over,” Rogers says. “We call them our humble heros because they sacrifice months and years of their lives for the principles of this country, and then, they want to give back. They want to give back to their fellow soldiers and to their community.” And,data shows that when these veterans give back and get hired, they usually get paid more. Veterans who found jobs through ABCCM earned about $14 per hour compared to the national average of $9.50 per hour.

The ABCCM also tries to find permanent housing for its veterans. But, Rogers explains, the process isn’t just about finding a roof to put over someone’s head.

“The purpose is not to just provide housing, but to provide for some basic necessities (that are) really built on how do we help that veteran embrace their choice. We try and help them embrace their dreams and help them embrace, through self determination, their future and reintegrate back into society,” Rogers says. Steadfast House for women has a 73 percent placement rate and the Veteran Restoration Quarters had a 76 percent placement rate into permanent housing compared with the national average of 60 percent. 

However, Rogers says that none of the success of ABCCM would be possible without help from the community, citing the collaborations with the Charles George VA Medical Center, the Asheville Homeless Initiative and the more than 40 providers in the homeless coalition who work on the local 10-year plan to end homelessness. 

Though Rogers says he is somewhat nervous about speaking before the sub-committee, he emphasizes that it is an honor to be recognized and to share what is happening locally on a national level.

“We’re humble just to be able to serve our veterans,” Rogers says. “It’s a real honor to share what we’ve learned with the nation.”

Rogers will present a 10-page testimony, supporting documentation and an outline of nine principles he credits as reasons why ABCCM has been successful with its veterans programs. These priciniples are:

1. Continuting the principles around both the incentive-based approach instead of an entitlement-based approach

2. The importance of local innovation

3. Supporting V.A. Medical Centers

4. Combining the veterans 5-year plan to end homelessness for veterans with the local 10-year plan to end homelessness in Asheville

5. Providing a collegial and campus learning and opportunity environment

6.engaging the local faith community and the power of their volunteerism b/c they reflect shared values not only of the community but for alos the shared values for successful lifestyles

7. Working with the other comprehensive veteran-supported programs

8. Creating stronger innovations for educational training pathways

9. Utitlizing and engaging all of the veterans services organizations in the community who are committed to helping veterans reintegrate into the community


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