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GRANTEE STORY: Maryland Center for Veterans Education and Training (MCVET)

Thursday, April 6, 2017 | The BWGC


Care, Support, and Housing for Homeless Veterans

It was “the time they gave me,” Ms. Charleatha Cherry said.  The time to figure out what happened “out there” to bring me ”in here.”   “Out there” is homelessness; “in here” is MCVET, the Maryland Center for Veterans Education and Training Inc., a new BWGC grantee in 2016.   MCVET ‘s mission is to provide veterans, particularly those who are homeless, with comprehensive services to help them re-enter their communities as active and productive citizens.

Veterans started the organization in 1993 for veterans (whether honorably or dishonorably discharged), and it functions along military lines. This provides a familiar framework for the clients, says Jeffrey Kendrick, Executive Director.  Beds are made in the military fashion, lights come on at 5am and the entire place is neat as a pin.   All clients (women and men) attend classes and meet with counselors each day. When in the building, they wear lanyards identifying them as MCVET clients and there is a nighttime curfew.   Everyone has duties at the facility like KP duty (Kitchen Patrol) and working in the laundry / clothing ‘store’ where donations are cleaned, sorted and shelved for clients to choose.    There is a zero tolerance policy for drugs and alcohol, with testing roughly four times a month.  If clients are ‘discharged' for failing a drug test, they may reapply in 45 days.  As Mr. Kendrick said “Relapse is a part of recovery.”    

MCVET provides both short and long term housing that supports a variety of situations veterans may find themselves in. The housing services include drop in day facilities, emergency housing, transitional housing and single room occupancy units.

According to research, women veterans are three to four times more likely than non-veteran women to become homeless.  And as more women serve in the military there is expected be a corresponding increase in the number of homeless female veterans. 

For over twenty years, MCVET has been successfully working to meet the needs of female homeless veterans by providing shelter and wrap-around support services in a safe and welcoming environment. In addition MCVET provides female veterans support and education groups that help to build self-esteem, promote family connection, and personal empowerment. MCVET is the only provider of these coordinated services for homeless female veterans in the Baltimore metropolitan area.

Ms. Cheery entered MCVET on November 12, 2013.  She began to work as a VET Guard (security) in February 2014 and became full time staff there in February 2016.  In her experience other organizations were not set up to provide her the time she needed to ‘sit still’ and think about what had happened.   She felt they pushed her too fast, wanting to know right away what her plan was so they could move her through the system and out.  She noted that her homelessness did not happen in a day so neither would her recovery.  At MCVET she found the time and support that she needed to heal and become self-sufficient.