DVNF grant recipient, the Boise Rescue Mission Ministries, discusses how they help veterans in their communities, and how DVNF’s grant has given their their Veterans Ministries Program a boost.
In recent years, veterans have accounted for 24% of the homeless population served by Boise Rescue Mission Ministries (BRMM), which is significant considering the area served by BRMM represents 49% of the total homeless population of the State of Idaho.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness gave Idaho a “D” for its delivery of mental healthcare because of a lack of critical resources like psychiatrists, options for Medicaid patients, and 24-hour highly skilled treatment facilities for people with serious mental health needs. The state cut 18% from its mental health budget from 2009 to 2012. And, while Medicaid enrollment swelled after the recession, Idaho didn’t increase its spending on mental health. The overall Department of Health and Welfare budget skyrocketed, while mental health received a smaller share.
All of these factors speak to the need for a specialized program that provides homeless veterans comprehensive mental health care.
Thus, BRMM is extremely grateful to the Disabled Veterans National Foundation for its support of our mental health services for veterans participating in the Veterans Ministries Program, which is offered at two of our facilities in Boise, ID and one facility in Nampa, ID.
During the grant period, 35 veterans received mental health services to aid them on their journey to recovery, good health and stability. In its six years of operation, BRMM’s Veterans Ministries Program has maintained a 91% success rate in transitioning veterans into long-term housing and/or employment: 140 veterans have transitioned back into the community after an average of 4 ½ months in the program. (Although veterans participate in the program as long as their individual situation requires, most veterans spend an average of 4 ½ months in the program, which demonstrates the program’s efficiency in identifying specific needs of each veteran and providing the assistance needed.)
“I was on a path to die. But coming to Boise Rescue Mission changed everything. After my first day, I knew God brought me here so that I could live.”
James is a Vietnam veteran we met May 17th, 2012. At the time, he says, he had come to the Mission to die. James tells me, “In 2009, I was having a lot of trouble breathing and I had gotten very sick. The doctors were not sure what was wrong but started treating me for emphysema or COPD. They basically told me there wasn’t any hope.”
James says he was depressed at first, but then he tried to fight it. By 2012 though, he was much worse and he had nowhere left to go. He called the Mission for a place to stay.
“Right away they got me into the Mission’s Veterans Ministry Program, and they got me to the VA hospital where I found out I had been misdiagnosed. The doctors there diagnosed me with a rare lung disease and told me I needed a lung transplant.”
James spent the next year and a half at the Lighthouse working to get healthy enough to have the transplant. While he was learning to care for his body, he was also finding out how to care for his soul, and says, “Now I walk with God every day.”
A year ago, we said goodbye to James as he left to prepare for his lung transplant. But God chose to answer our prayers for James in a way we hardly dared to hope for. Instead of transplant surgery, his disease went into remission.
He came back to the Lighthouse last September and has steadily been getting better. Today, he is the picture of health and lives to serve other vets. James tells us he is eternally grateful. He says we saved his life.