GRANITE CITY – U.S. Rep. Bill Enyart (D-Illinois) has announced that $505,065 has been awarded to Chestnut Health Systems Inc. in Granite City from the Department of Veterans Affairs to assist homeless and at-risk veterans and their families.
The Department of Veterans Affairs recently issued about $300 million in grants to 301 community agencies across the country. The grants are designed to help approximately 115,000 homeless and at-risk veterans. The awards were issued from the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program to private nonprofit organizations and consumer cooperatives that provide services to very low-income families transitioning to permanent housing. The program was designed to end veteran homelessness, which has seen a 24 percent decline since 2010.
“By far, one of the most difficult things I’ve witnessed in my 35-year military career are veterans who don’t have a place to call home,” Enyart said. “Since I took office last year, I’ve been in constant communication with the VA about health care, the disability claims backlog, homeless veterans and more. It’s nice to see that they are stepping up to do the right thing here in Southern Illinois.”
Additionally, Enyart has been working with the Marion VA Facility to ensure timely access to health care for veterans in Southern Illinois. He has made impromptu visits to the Marion VA Hospital, the Marion VA outpatient facility, and the Belleville VA outpatient facility. He plans to continue making unscheduled stops throughout the region. The 12th Congressional District of Illinois has the highest number of veterans of any district in the state, including the Chicago area.
Enyart also shared his concerns for veterans’ affairs in July with then-Acting Secretary Sloan Gibson. While Enyart was in session, Gibson visited the VA hospital in St. Louis. At the meeting with Gibson was Enyart’s staff member, Laura Taylor. During the sit-down, Taylor discussed issues facing veterans and their families in Southern Illinois with the Secretary.
“It is important that Secretary Gibson understands the challenges and concerns that have been shared with Congressman Enyart,” Taylor said. “The congressman has made stops at three VA medical facilities to speak firsthand to patients and frontline staff, asking where their concerns lie. I shared those findings with the secretary and urged him to correct these issues as soon as possible.”