In recognition of its continuing superior performance, the Kansas and Western Missouri (KWM) Division Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program has received the 2019 National Social Services Award for Program Excellence and Achievement.
Among the first awardees of a SSVF grant when the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) launched the program in 2011, the division’s SSVF initiative has consistently achieved standards for program excellence set by The Salvation Army and the VA and has received many awards and recognitions from the VA, community partners, veterans organizations and the Kansas state legislature.
The division utilizes a unique, mobile method for SSVF case management, pastoral care, temporary financial assistance and homeless vet outreach and engagement. This mobility delivers highly effective, cost-efficient service to veterans and their families living in the division’s 115 counties. Vet-to-vet peer support and navigation strategies incorporated early on in the KWM SSVF program are now used in nearly every SSVF program in the country.
Serving an average of 500 veteran households each year, the program’s outcomes are significant with a high level of success in permanently housing homeless vets and those at imminent risk of homelessness in urban, rural and tribal environments. Much effort has gone into forming community-based collaborations, including four VA medical centers, and coordinating continued pastoral and social service care through the nearest corps.
The program’s “Boots on the Ground” homeless outreach strategy quickly rehouses extremely low-income or homeless veteran households, intervenes with landlords when veteran households are at risk of homelessness and collaborates with several agencies to provide a continuum of the fight against homelessness.
The program’s scope and reach throughout the division calls for some SSVF services to be located at strategically situated corps, which helps retain the program’s identity with The Salvation Army, increases collaboration and generates corps rental income.
“What you’ve done has been very helpful in my chance at a fresh and positive start,” read one letter of appreciation from a veteran, while another concluded, “Life before and after my case manager’s assistance was a bitter winter compared to a bright spring.”