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1 The Veterans Leadership Council of North Carolina CARES Veterans Life Center Campus Project The Veterans Leadership Council of North Carolina-CARES is a Veteran owned 501c3 non-profit corporation founded by Veterans for Veterans. Both its leadership and membership consists of Veterans who have a demonstrated record of achievement in and out of uniform. A statewide council of Veteran leaders, our Board of Directors has extensive experience in directing statewide, federally chartered Veterans Service Organizations, private sector businesses, and public service. VLCNC- CARES is guided by an Advisory Council that includes former Governors Hunt and Martin, and former Chief Justice of the NC Supreme Court Burley Mitchell. Our public/private partnership of supporting agencies and resource providers seeks to employ evidence based, best practices solution sets in a therapeutic environment for homeless and at-risk Veterans and their families. Building 71

2 I. Statement of Problem Our research indicates that a significant issue to creating a more successfully woven network of Veterans supports, and increased Federal funding, is the lack of statewide coordinated response present in 38 other states. The Veterans Leadership Council of North Carolina-CARES Veterans Life Center Campus project in Butner has been designed to create a public/private partnership to address these deficiencies. Simply stated, in North Carolina, there is no statewide system of Veteran specific supports designed to provide a bridge between hospitalization and intensive outpatient treatment leading to successful community reintegration. Currently, the majority of such beds available to Veterans are in existing public and private substance abuse facilities, as a percentage of the whole. (Point-in-Time count and other homelessness surveys indicate that some 20% of all homeless individuals are Veterans; recent unemployment figures indicate that unemployment among Iraq/Afghanistan (I/A) Veterans is over 28 %.) North Carolina is home to over 800,000 Veterans, has the greatest number of active duty troops on the East Coast, and will soon have more General Officers in residence than anywhere other than the Pentagon. Despite these indicators of military presence, North Carolina s Veteran community, and recent I/A Veterans in particular, have relatively few resources available to those who struggle with making the transition from military life a lack of coordinated reintegration resources. The Veterans Administration s most recent figures confirm this; in 2009 VA Medical Centers in North Carolina treated 1,118 identified homeless Veterans, in 2010 some 3,006 homeless Veterans were seen, as of 11/11 they have seen over 4,200 newly homeless Veterans. Currently, there are a total of 60 emergency housing beds specifically for Veterans in North Carolina 30 each in Salisbury and Charlotte. VA records indicate 360 transitional/ treatments beds statewide. In fact, there is only one operational transitional housing facility in North Carolina dedicated to Veterans, in Asheville. The Veterans Restoration Quarters, a branch of the Asheville Buncombe County Christian

3 Ministries (a consortium of 140 churches) currently operates their faith based program of 158 transitional beds from an old motel across from the Asheville VA Medical Center. VLCNC-CARES research indicates that VA reported figures are low by as much as 100%. The VA recently reported that fewer than 50% of returning Veterans have even registered with the Veterans Administration highlighting the VA s outreach issues. Using standard estimates of Veterans homelessness as a percentage of the general homeless population, State and Local governments place the estimates in excess of 10,000 homeless Veterans. These numbers promise to grow as a generation of young Veterans men and women- return home to record high unemployment rates and increased competition for government services among the civilian population. In recognition of these serious difficulties facing our returning Veterans, and acknowledgment of the State s role, The Behavioral Healthcare for Veterans bill was signed into law on April 20, This law mandates that all state funded agencies and organizations report to the General Assembly, by August 1, 2012, their preparations and participation in these efforts. Included are all State government departments and the UNC System. II. Proposed Project and Purpose VLCNC-CARES Veterans Life Center Campus program seeks to create the only statewide, therapeutic residential setting for Veterans. This program will provide a rehabilitation-focused residential setting for Veterans recovering from chronic mental illness, combat stress, chemical dependency and homelessness. The Veterans Life Center campus will provide a bridge between hospitalization, intensive outpatient treatment and successful community reintegration. It will use a residential therapeutic community of peer and professional support, with a strong emphasis on personal responsibility and achievement of individualized rehabilitation goals. Using best practices models such as the Veterans Village of San Diego and the Veterans Restoration Quarters in Asheville, VLCNC-CARES has developed a public/private partnership to create and administer a series of evidence based treatments for such challenges as PTSD, TBI, MST, as well as common Behavioral and Mental Health issues. Collaboration and guidance from VVSD and the VRQ have provided VCLNC-CARES with years worth of evidence on capacity and sustainability issues; the need to identify and cultivate literally dozens of funding streams from government programs to individual donors. Both organizations depend heavily on VA monies to conduct day-to-day operations, and both have been held up as being highly competent organizations by both VA and USIACH officials. The evidence provided from these programs indicates that homeless Veterans are different; the causes of their homelessness are different, as is their recovery rate. Once relieved of the burdens of protecting our freedoms, they recover and move on to civilian success at a rate that is more than 50% greater than homeless civilians. In response to the demonstrated needs and the lack of coordinated Veterans services, VLCNC-CARES has formed a public/private partnership based around the proposed Veterans Life Center campus, to be located on the John Umstead Hospital Complex in Butner. The 400 bed Veterans Life Center campus will be housed in

4 237,000 sq ft of leased residential housing space. Repairs and renovations to these buildings will cost approximately $6 million. To support residents, VLCNC-CARES and the NC DHHS have negotiated an MOA with the RJ Blackley Alcohol and Drug Addiction Treatment Center (ADATC) located on campus, to develop and provide an evidence based, best practices model of Veteran specific Behavioral Health services and supports. VLCNC-CARES is currently negotiating an additional MOA to include the LME s (county behavioral health providers) to provide coordinated intake, data recording and follow-up care. This pilot program will cover the central region of North Carolina, for adoption statewide. Additional supporting organizations who have indicated interest in participating in Veterans Life Center programs are UNC-Chapel Hill, NCSU, ECU, and RTI. All of these organizations are current recipients of Federal monies directed to the study and treatment of Veteran-specific issues. Each has a world class record of problem assessment and solution identification and recognizes the benefit of collaboration for our Veterans and their respective associated programs. Consistent with the recent BURR Initiative to renovate existing VA dormitories to provide concentrated services and support, the VA has indicated their interest in our finished product. Their GPD or Contract services allow for up to 24 months of lifetime support through programs similar to the Veterans Life Center. VLCNC-CARES has launched a six million dollar Capital Campaign for program development and sustainability monies to supplement government funding. Plans for operations include Vocational Education programs designed to provide our Veterans with Life Skills, Employment Skills, and business experience. IT and Agribusiness programs will provide valuable real world experience and generate income for both the Veteran and the Veterans Life Center. To summarize, VLCNC-CARES has identified the requisite components of the most successful Veterans support and reintegration programs in the nation and matched these components to existing, highly competent organizations currently performing these tasks within 50 mile of Butner. We have developed a public/private partnership to house and support these programs and are identifying as many as 50 public and private funding streams to fund these operations. VLCNC-CARES proposed programs have received the endorsement of national and local business and political leaders and the Veterans community at large. Services Provided: Emergency and Transitional Housing Individual Case Management Behavioral Health Mental Health Support Groups Gender Based Assistance Employment Training Resume Writing Budgeting Educational Assistance Transportation Nutrition VA System Navigation

5 Resource Providers: NC Dept of Commerce; Division of Community Assistance NC DHHS; RJ Blackley ADATC and LME s US Dept of Veterans Administration UNC System Schools; UNC, NCSU, ECU NC Community Colleges For more information, Contact John W Turner, Executive Director (919) or III. Plan of Activities with Timelines 8/1/11 VLCNC-CARES began a 15 year lease for 8 buildings (237,000 sq ft) on the John Umstead Hospital complex in Butner. $6 million Capital Campaign to raise Capacity Building and Operational funds begins VLC-CARES / RJ Blackley ADATC / LME program development committee recruitment - RTI, UNC, DUKE, NCSU to be added prior to 3/12 8/1/12 Hire Qualified Professional (QP) Program Manager for Veterans Life Center 1/1/13 Veterans Life Center, Phase I: Renovations and Program Development for Building 71 complete (150 Veterans) Begin Operations $2 of $6 million Capital Campaign goals met Renovations continue on Buildings /1/13Veterans Life Center, Phase I complete; - Full program development complete - Vet Life Center partnerships developed and functioning Veterans Life Center, Phase II opens -Renovation to Bldgs complete (250 Veterans) -Begin Operations $6 million Capital Campaign goals met Statewide ADATC / LME programs functioning 8/1/14 All VLCNC-CARES programs operating Statewide Continued program refinement and funding development

6 IV. Evaluation Success of VLCNC-CARES programs will be evaluated through evidence based matrices. Unified, statewide data collection and interagency collaboration will provide the raw data; integrated, individualized case management will provide direct tracking of former residents of the Veterans Life Center. An on-going, follow-up support network of supporting agencies (LME s, Dept of Corrections, and Judicial System) will provide direct feedback on the success or failure of Veterans Life Center programs. As a public/private partnership we are bound to maintain the high standards for professional evaluation practiced by our supporting agencies. As operational funding lead, the Veterans Administration will be the Veterans Life Center s primary assessor. In addition to maintaining the standards of health and welfare mandated by the Federal Life Safety Code, participation in the Carolina Homeless Information Network (CHIN) will provide statewide data for tracking and comparison. VLCNC-CARES will be responsible to each of our funding entities; a comprehensive financial tracking program will be necessary to fulfill the reporting and evaluation requirements incumbent on VLCNC-CARES when funding is granted. Additionally, as a 501c3, VLCNC-CARES is responsible to the IRS, NC Department of Revenue as well the NC Secretary of State s Charitable Solicitation Licensing Office. The most visible and effective means of evaluation will be in the success of former Veterans Life Center residents; an absence of relapses, restored family relationships, gainful employment and/or higher education degrees. Inherent in the State s Behavioral Healthcare for Veterans Law (SL ) is more effective widespread data collection and reporting. Participating supporting agencies will have an independent source of data with which to conduct individual evaluations of our public/private partnership.

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