Many veterans require mental health, employment and/or housing support at some point in their lives. To help them access the assistance they need, a bill sponsored by Assembly Democrats Joann Downey, Eric Houghtaling, Pamela Lampitt, Raj Mukherji and Jamel Holley would create a grant program to help organizations provide necessary services to New Jersey veterans.
An estimated 1.7 million veterans throughout the country have mental health needs while more than 37,000 will experience homelessness each year. The veteran unemployment rate more than doubled in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to a total of over 580,000 unemployed veterans last year.
The legislation (A-995) would establish a ‘Veterans Assistance Grant Program’ in the State Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to provide grants to government and non-profit entities to provide services to the state’s veterans. These services would include mental health and family counseling, job training and housing assistance.
Upon the bill passing the Assembly Military and Veterans Affairs Committee on Wednesday, sponsors Downey, Houghtaling (both D-Monmouth), Lampitt (D-Camden, Burlington), Mukherji (D-Hudson) and Holley (D-Union) issued the following joint statement:
“Our military members courageously serve this country and make sacrifices every day to defend our freedoms. It is not uncommon for them to encounter challenges such as housing insecurity, mental health concerns and unemployment as they navigate their transition to civilian life after serving in the military. New Jersey owes it to our veterans to provide services that can help them deal with the challenges they face back home. This grant program will ensure more of our veterans can access the support they need.”