LACEY – Originally started as the Ocean County POW/MIA Organization in 1984, Vetwork is helping veterans get on their feet.
Their mission is to meet the immediate and long-term needs of lower income veterans. The main goal is to provide a continuum of care to enable veterans to maintain and achieve self-sufficiency. They offer, however, anything and everything they can to satisfy a need.
Bernard Snyder is a retired Lacey Township Police detective and serves on the board for Vetwork. He explained the type of situations that he has witnessed through the years. Offering rides to and from Veterans Administration hospitals is a big part of their services, but there is so much more.
Snyder recalled a local woman who suffered a foot wound during her enlistment but never had it treated. She was set to pay for surgery that would repair her foot, asking Vetwork to help with other bills. Counselors were able to help her file a claim that would cover the whole procedure.
They also offer services for those suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. If someone comes to them and needs immediate assistance, they will refer them to the clinic in Brick that specializes in such matters and likely give them a ride. Or they offer referrals to those who are searching for someone to talk to on a regular basis.
They can offer help when someone may find themselves without a place to stay for the night. There is a food bank on site to meet immediate demand. They have back packs people can grab that will supply them with needed essentials like; towels, scarves, toothpaste and shampoo. These packs are donated by organizations like the VFW, the Moose or Elks lodge. They also offer to cover burial costs for those who have no family.
They even have a bicycle for a homeless vet who requested it.
Snyder proudly tells the story of meeting a man who had stopped by for some food during his trek that started in Connecticut. Asked if he needed anything at all, a bike was requested. After one was found and supplied, the man was so grateful he made a set of rosary beads out of parachute cord as a gift for the volunteer.
He said his wife took the rosary to their church and people wanted to get their own set, but the man had already moved on. Snyder was sad that he wasn’t able to give the man the opportunity to make some money along the way.
How To Help
The big dilemma for Vetwork now is they have lost funding. They were able to use a grant in the past to pay employees and cover operating expenses, but they weren’t able to secure the funding this year. They have had to limit the number of hours of being available in person due to this shortage. They are more dependent on corporate sponsorships and donations in order to keep serving the needs of Ocean County veterans. Snyder says they will apply for the grant again next year, but they aren’t sure how they will keep up services in the meantime.
They do take donations and want you to know that more than 90 percent of the total donations goes toward veterans. They are currently reassessing where they can pull resources to cover operating costs so they can keep helping veterans in the area.
If you are able to make a donation you can do so through their website at VetWork.org.
If you or someone you know is a veteran in the area that needs help, please direct them to Vetwork. They are located at 103 N. Main Street in Lacey and can be reached at 609-971-7613.