The Texas Veterans Commission’s Veterans Aid Fund last Wednesday awarded over $ 1 million in grants to six organizations in East Texas to provide services to approximately 5,400 veterans.
The annual grant presentation was held at the Habitat for Humanity of Smith County ReStore in Tyler.
The six fellows consisted of Ark-Tex Council of Governments, Community Services of Northeast Texas, Inc., East Texas Council of Governments, Habitat for Humanity of Smith County, Northeast Texas Habitat for Humanity, and Community Healthcore.
TVC commissioners approved these grants in May as part of an overall grant program that provided 147 grants to organizations across Texas. The grants totaled $ 33.4 million this year, including over $ 1 million that was awarded in East Texas.
Funding for these grants is generated primarily through veterans’ cash lottery tickets for veteran sponsorship. Other sources of funding for the scholarships include donation options for driver’s licenses, gun licenses, outdoor recreational licenses for hunting and fishing, and vehicle registrations.
Texas Veterans Commission’s Commissioner Kimberlee Shaneyfelt said she was grateful to the Texas authorities looking after veterans.
“I think Texas is the best in the country when it comes to our veterans. Without all of these charities looking after our veterans, we couldn’t do what we do at TVC, ”Shaneyfelt said.
Shaneyfelt says the donation option actually works when it comes to getting a driver’s license, or hunting and fishing license, or handgun license.
“It’s such a tiny thing, a dollar or two expense. If you have a lot of these, you can see the power of the $ 33 million grants in 2021 and over $ 200 million in the program’s history since 2009, “she said. “That small donation or lottery ticket you buy is powerful when it is raised across the state of Texas.”
During the event, each participating organization received their check and explained how the money will help local veterans.
Habitat for Humanity of Smith County’s CEO Jack Wilson emphasized how the grants will help with their annual critical home repairs.
“They have to choose between food or medicine and they cannot fix their home. There are nowhere else in Smith County or any other organization that is doing critical repairs on their homes. Smith County Habitat is your safety net, ”said Wilson.
Wilson said he saw sewage damage in homes and is glad Habitat can help with 100 to 150 critical repairs a year.
“I went into houses, saw holes in the ground and saw the roof collapse. If that happens and it’s not fixed, rain will come in or mold will develop. We’ve seen people actually sleeping in other rooms because the rain is coming into their bedrooms, ”he said. “In one case the lady slept on her porch. Or they sleep in their winter clothes. “
Wilson said Smith County Habitat performed 1,200 critical repairs for veterans, seniors and people with disabilities. He also stressed that it would not be possible without the Texas Veterans Commission’s scholarship tour.
Veteran assistance is divided into five distinct categories: General Assistance, Texas Heroes Housing, Veterans Mental Health Grants, Veterans Treatment Courts, and County Service Veterans Officials.
The grants also support a wide range of services including emergency financial assistance, transportation, legal advice, family support, home remodeling, and rental and mortgage assistance.
The six scholarship holders for the different categories were:
General assistance allowances
Ark-Tex Council of Governments – a $ 5,000 grant to fund transportation services for veterans in Lamar County.
Community Services of Northeast Texas, Inc. – A $ 300,000 grant to fund financial assistance to veterans, loved ones, and surviving spouses in 15 east Texas counties.
East Texas Council of Governments – A $ 150,000 grant to fund transportation services and programs for veterans in 14 counties, including Panola.
Housing for Texas Heroes Scholarships
Habitat for Humanity of Smith County – a $ 150,000 grant to fund home remodeling for veterans and surviving spouses in seven counties.
Northeast Texas Habitat for Humanity – a $ 200,000 grant to finance home remodeling for veterans in three counties.
Community Healthcore (Sabine Valley Regional Mental Health Center) – Two grants totaling $ 200,000:
- US $ 150,000 general support grants to fund support services for veterans, loved ones, and surviving spouses in 12 counties in East Texas, including Panola.
- US $ 50,000 mental health grant to fund peer support services for veterans, loved ones, and surviving spouses in 12 counties in East Texas, including Panola.