New Mexico is one of only four states in the nation seeing the number of homeless veterans increasing. There are more than 150,000 veterans living in New Mexico. Nine percent live in poverty, and nearly 17 percent are homeless.
“We are asking the community to come together to serve those who have valiantly served our country,” said Bobby Ehrig, Executive Director of the New Mexico Veterans Integration Centers (VIC). “Our program has been in existence for nearly 15 years, and we are the only program in New Mexico that offers transitional housing for veterans and their families.”
The VIC Board of Directors is challenging the community to step up and will match dollar for dollar up to $55,000 in a push to raise money this fall.
“The most important services we provide our veterans is housing – whether that be emergency, transitional or permanent housing,” he added. “The program works. More than 78 percent of people we serve are in stable housing one year after they exit the VIC’s program.”
In addition to housing, VIC provides trauma recovery, mental health and suicide prevention services; peer-to-peer support and a food pantry.
Alvin, a VIC client and US Air Force veteran said, “The VIC saved my life. I was on my last edge and I didn’t feel like I had anything left. The VIC, and everyone here, made me feel welcome and part of a family again. They helped me work through my problems and get back on my feet. They even got me into an apartment after six months, and I have been going to therapy and working on giving back by volunteering here now. I cannot say enough great things about how the VIC saved my life, but I am so glad that they are here for us.”
Government funding to the organization has been drastically cut, and the VIC Board of Directors is hoping to raise at least $300,000 this year to continue growing its services and serving more veterans.
“Our veterans have done so much for our country,” Ehrig said. “Let’s come together and show them they matter and how grateful we are.”