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Veterans Serving Through AmeriCorps Impact Servicemembers in Need April 29, 2013

Posted by servicecorpsnews in Member Spotlight.

Two veterans enrolled in national service through the ALA Call to Service Corps have made a difference in the lives of dozens of servicemembers and veterans across the country at their service assignments with USA Cares.

Justin Chattoo and Jason Kennedy are AmeriCorps members assigned to USA Cares, an organization dedicated to the restoration of financial stability and self-sufficiency among those in the military community needing “a hand up, not a hand-out.” The organization operates principally by providing obligation-free grants to those under financial duress. These grants cover a variety of needs, ranging from travel expenses for those attending distant job interviews, emergency financial resources for mandatory car and housing payments, living expenses for those recovering in VA care and much more. USA Cares also provides extensive job location assistance.USA-Cares-LogoWEB

Chattoo, a Marine Corps veteran, and Kennedy, a Kentucky Army National Guardsman who has been deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and post-Katrina New Orleans, play pivotal roles in USA Cares’ Jobs and Emergency Assistance programs.

As the Jobs Resource Coordinator for the Job Assistance Program, Chattoo helps match veterans, servicemembers, National Guardsmen and reservists with potential jobs. He is also responsible for the assessment and evaluation of financial grant applications from newly employed veterans who need a small floater to reach their first paycheck.

Chattoo has enjoyed his term of service so far, and is proud to make an impact on the lives of his fellow veterans.

“I believe in the mission and organization,” he said. “Veterans need a hand-up, not a hand-out.  A lot of these places give them a loan and that’s it – they’re done with them. USA Cares makes sure they can stand on their feet.”

Kennedy recently completed his AmeriCorps service term as the Family Resource Coordinator for USA Cares’ Emergency Assistance Program. Like Chattoo, he is responsible for assessment and evaluation of grant applications from those in need of cost-of-living related emergency assistance. Individuals in danger of missing car or electricity payments, for example, are common clients, as are those with military pay issues, evictions and other unforeseen issues.  Many of his clients also struggle with behavioral health issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries.

Kennedy has assisted veterans from Alaska to Puerto Rico through his service, and has found the experience rewarding.

“It’s been kind of an eye opener,” he said. “I knew there was a lot of hardship out there, [but] I had no idea about the actual number that struggle with hardship. It’s mind-blowing.”



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