|Members of TBP at the Florence Memorial Day parade.|
By Jen Kohl
Tonight there will be at least 800 to 1200 veterans sleeping on the streets in the Commonwealth.
Nationwide, there are more than 50,000 homeless veterans. Like many of us, Felicia Huesman of Alexandria finds these statistics mind-blowing.
“Once I learned firsthand of the lack of resources and funding soldiers were receiving after coming back home from deployments, I felt an urgency to reduce this number. Instead of complaining about the lack of support for our veterans once they return home, I decided to take action,” Huesman said.
Huesman is the founder and CEO of The Barracks Project (TBP), a non-profit, volunteer-based organization that is made up of Huesman’s friends and NKU classmates that all share a passion for our homeless veterans. With an executive board of four members and 14 committee members, TBP is well on the way to accomplishing a long list of goals in its’ first month.
“Being married to a military police officer and coming from a strong military family, I have a special spot in my heart for our country's veterans. I became the Family Readiness Group Leader of my husband's 940th MP Company in 2015.
The Barracks Project’s goal is to help newly transitioning homeless veterans home from deployment within the last five years back into the community.
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“Partnering with local PTSD non-profit, 22 Until Valhalla, we will be able to ensure that the daily battles our residents will be going through will be addressed and hopefully resolved by counseling and providing guidance,” she added.
“I want soldiers to be able to know that it is ok to ask for help after serving their country. I want to gain the support and trust of our troops without having to make them feel as if they’re accepting a hand out or staying at a shelter or just eating from a soup kitchen. Soldiers are the most prideful beings on Earth, and rightfully so. I truly believe that TBP will be able to help save lives and forever change the lives of those who have defended ours.”
Funds raised will be used to buy foreclosed buildings in the tristate area that can be rehabbed and used to help homeless veterans get back on their feet.
“I was appalled when I researched my mission and found that there is nothing like TBP in our area,” Huseman said.
“Yes, there are homeless shelters and veteran assistance programs but there are no actual “home life” opportunities promoting personal growth and development. We do not want to be just a temporary roof over these soldiers’ heads but a transformational stepping stone to their next chapter in life.
Our residents will be actively seeking jobs and be provided training for different job trades of their interest. We will be offering hands on resume building courses and mock interviews to better prepare these soldiers for any career they desire.”
TBP has already put together a “beauty team” of licensed beauticians and stylists that will assist in getting veterans’ physical appearance and wardrobe ready for job interviews.
“We want to cover every single aspect of daily life to help these veterans develop a sense of themselves again as civilians. Unless you are a veteran or involved in a military lifestyle, it is hard to understand the struggles of becoming a civilian again, and that is where we come into play,” Huesman said.
Partnering up with two local veteran founded non-profit organizations, TBP will be making a huge impact in our homeless veteran community.
|Members of The Barracks Project at their first fundraiser.|
Determined and fearless, we are dedicating our time and efforts to call upon other civilians to give back to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. There is no reason that a protector of our country ever be starving or living on the streets.”
Beth McCubbin, TBP Secretary said, “My grandfather was a WWII veteran, and I have many other family members and friends who have also served our country. Knowing that many veterans come back home struggling to find work and a place to call “home” is just heartbreaking. Being part of an organization that will help newly transitioning veterans overcome these obstacles is such an honor to me.”
Kailyn Campbell, head of TBP marketing outreach added, “Felicia has created an amazing organization to help homeless veterans here in the tri-state area. I am so proud of my friend and look forward to standing by her side along this journey.
I have many family members and friends who either have served or are currently serving in our military including my nephew who is currently active in the Marine Corp and in Japan. I am a firm believer that freedom isn't free. Many men and women have risked their lives for many, many years to protect us as US citizens. One out of four homeless are US veterans. Our organization believes there is no reason for this and we plan to do something about it.”
For more information, visit The Barracks Project on Facebook.