The Veterans Life Center
In 2010, VLC-CARES began developing a public/private partnership with supporting agencies and resource providers to employ evidence-based, best practices solution sets in a therapeutic residential environment for homeless and at-risk veterans. The Veterans Life Center is modeled after top programs nationwide, including Veterans Village of San Diego.
VLC-CARES and The Veterans Life Center enjoy bipartisan support from leaders of the state of North Carolina. In 2011, the NC Council of State approved the lease of eight buildings on the John Umstead Hospital Complex in Butner to VLC-CARES for the purpose of providing emergency and transitional housing for homeless and at-risk veterans and their families. On Memorial Day, 2014, Governor Pat McCrory announced a $4.2 million grant to refurbish the first and largest of the buildings, and the architectural/design process got underway.
The Veterans Life Center Coordinated Care Case Management Program:
The path to self-reliance requires a system of case management we call Coordinated Care, the components of which are recognized best practices that have proven successful, each in its own sphere. The breakthrough of the VLC concept is in combining these elements in a customized way for each person.
A. Physical Health
B. Behavioral Health, including substance abuse, anger management and other therapies
C. Family reunification and /or counseling
A. Life Skills – e.g. personal grooming, home maintenance, banking, budgeting,
diet and nutrition, and other components of a modern-world lifestyle.
B. G.E.D. achievement
C. Vocational training and certification
C. Community integration
D. Family services
E. Continuing care
These programs will be offered through the Veterans Life Center by and in cooperation with qualified caregivers in each case, including medical facilities, physical therapy facilities, educational institutions, community social service providers and other qualified providers. Some programs will be done at the Veterans Life Center, but most will be held off-site. VLC will provide transportation for all residents to and from the off-site locations.
Developing the Project
Phase I of the Veterans Life Center will include the construction of a new 40,000 sf facility on the John Umstead Hospital campus in Butner, NC. This facility will serve 150 homeless and at-risk Veterans, with a staff of 33 professional caregivers and other personnel.
• Building construction time – 12-18 months.
• Projected cost – $5.0 million.
• Full occupancy within 12 months from opening.
• 33 Full Time Positions will be created.
• Funding: HUD Community Development Block Grant and other NC state funding sources already in place.
Phase II of the Veterans Life Center project is planned for Buildings Bravo-India of the Umstead complex. These buildings will provide an additional 250 beds, and will allow for the accommodation of female Veterans and dependent children.
• Building rehab time – 12months.
• Projected cost – $5.8 million.
• Full occupancy within 12 months from opening.
• An additional 26 Full Time Positions will be created.
• Funding: To be determined mix of foundation grants, private fundraising and government sources.
The Veterans Life Center program will create the only statewide, therapeutic residential setting for veterans in North Carolina. At the center of the Veterans Life Center concept is a community of supporters committed to focusing the resources of many partners to provide more effective care and support for veterans and to track their outcomes. The partners in the project and their relationship to VLCNC-CARES include the following:
• As official recipient of the Phase I CDBG grant, the Town of Butner will play an important role in the development of the Veterans Life Center, which will be closely integrated with local ordinances, institutions and resources.
• VLCNC-CARES has an ongoing Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the adjacent R.J. Blackley Alcohol and Drug Addiction Treatment Center (ADATC) operated by the NC Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), which provides the basis for program development research and the provision of full 28-day medical detoxification services on-campus. Monthly program development meetings and ongoing professional education are already being held in support of this agreement. Future agreements with other DHHS divisions for the provision of support services are being outlined.
• Mental Health support services will be provided by the Durham VA Medical Center (DURVAMC) in Durham, NC. Access and transport to all services offered at DRUVAMC will be provided by the Veterans Life Center.
• The North Carolina Housing Finance Agency (NCHFA) has participated in the preliminary planning and provided VLC-CARES $25,000 through their Pre-Development Loan Program. These funds were used to finance initial engineering studies.
• A Memorandum of Understanding with the NC Department of Public Safety is currently in place, and provides for specific programmatic support by the NC National Guard, Department of Corrections, and Department of Justice as needed to enhance the systems of support for returning Veterans.
• VLCNC-CARES has negotiated a Memorandum of Agreement with Vance-Granville Community College for vocational training and certification services, as well as assistance in developing ways to assess the qualifications of Life Center residents for various programs.
• Agreements with University of North Carolina System schools such as UNC-Chapel Hill, NC State, NC Central, East Carolina, Fayetteville State and Appalachian State are under development. They will augment qualified professional services through educational internships and service agreements, as well as ongoing educational and professional support through a variety of programs. It is projected that additional educational support will be delivered through local Community Colleges and private educational providers, including Duke University and Medical Center.
• An MOA has also been established with StepUp Ministries, a recognized charitable provider of Life Skills training and other programs.
• VLCNC-CARES also has an MOA with the NC Division of Veterans Affairs under which NCDVA Veteran Service Officers will serve residents of the Veterans Life Center with regular on-site service.
• The renowned Research Triangle Park is only a 20-minute drive from the Veterans Life Center. Ongoing research that will have a dramatic impact on the lives of our reintegrating warriors is being conducted in private and public institutions located there, and throughout the region.
• Success of VLC-CARES programs, which will be reviewed by its Clinical Advisory Board, will be evaluated through evidence-based matrices. Unified, statewide data collection and interagency collaboration will provide the raw data, and integrated, individualized case management will provide direct tracking of former residents of the Veterans Life Center. An ongoing, follow-up support network of partner agencies, such as the Department of Corrections, will provide direct feedback on the success of Veterans Life Center programs.
Research indicates that a holistic and veteran-centered approach, such as VLC’s Coordinated Care will lead to more positive outcomes for veterans. In a study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry (2000; 157:1563–1570), specialized interventions (such as the array of wrap-around services provided by the Veterans Life Campus Center) for the mentally ill and homeless populations saw “significantly improved outcomes,” including improved mental health and quality of life for the populations studied. The same study also followed outcomes of a sub set of veterans and found that “outcomes were generally superior among veterans in residential treatment groups.”
Of course the most visible and effective means of evaluation will be in the success of former Veterans Life Center residents will come in their restored lives and family relationships, in stable, more permanent housing, in meaningful employment and in obtaining educational goals and productive employment. Our hope is that each and every Veteran we serve will be able to find a constructive and personally satisfying role in civil society.
We cannot do it alone. We need your help!
Please consider making a donation to help a homeless Veteran today, by supporting VLCNC-CARES in its efforts to build and operate the Veterans Life Center.