The Valor House is run in collaboration with the VA, Poverello Center, and the Missoula Housing Authority and provides supportive transitional housing to 17 qualifying homeless Veterans. The Valor House provides Veterans with single occupancy apartments, onsite case management, 24-hour staffing, direct connection to local healthcare providers, and referrals to other important social services in our community including job/employment assistance services. Valor House residents can live in their units up to 24 months. During their stay at the Valor House, Veterans pay 30% of their income as rent. The facility opened in 2005 and has provided service and support to many Veterans in need and in crisis.
Western Montana Military Officers Association has engaged in support to Valor House and its residents in the past several years with regular donations of necessary household goods and personal care items for residents. The chapter hosts an annual Christmas Party and dinner at the facility, and this summer added a barbeque for current and former residents and families. WMMOA works closely with Program Manager Jill Bonny and her staff at Valor House as an additional element of support for Valor House residents. The link below provides a list of current “Needs” for residents. WMMOA will have a collection basket at each meeting for members to drop off items that we can take to the Valor House. Thanks for your support
Missoula Veterans Court.
The Missoula Veterans Court was established in 2011 as a track of the Missoula Co-Occurring Court. The Missoula Veterans, other community members, court personnel and service providers who established the court recognize that most Veterans return from service strengthened and resume their life path fairly smoothly. A smaller number have some difficulties re-adapting but, with support, are able to resolve them over time. A much smaller number of Veterans have serious reintegration issues, are unable to receive the help they need to address them and end up committing a criminal offense, usually associated with substance use. It is this group for whom the court program was established, Veterans whose involvement in the criminal justice system appears connected to readjustment difficulties.
In addition to entering recovery and resuming the life path they were on prior to encountering difficulties, Veterans who successfully complete the program may achieve a more favorable criminal justice outcome, e.g., diversion, sentence reduction, deferral or suspension.
Missoula area Veterans assisted in establishing a key program component, the Veterans Court Mentor program. Mentors act as “trusted friends”, while their mentee is going through the program. Mentors attend annual training and monthly one-hour meetings. Mentors meet at least weekly with the participant. A relationship develops between the Mentor and the mentee that greatly helps the participant address the challenges of complying with the requirements of the Court, including attending recovery programs, finding housing, finding employment and dealing with a multitude of bureaucracies. Most Veterans complete the program in 15 to 18 months.
As of November 2017, 50 veterans have participated in the program. Our statistics demonstrate remarkable outcomes that we attribute both to the Veterans’ resilience and to the presence of Mentors in the program. Almost 90% of participants graduate from the program and their re-offense rate following graduation is significantly lower than that of other persons convicted of crimes. This is especially encouraging because only Veterans at high risk for re-offense are accepted into the program.
The court program capacity is fifteen veterans. There is a lengthening waiting list. The Missoula Veterans Court has been cited as one of the locally effective programs in the Missoula County Jail Diversion Study.
There are over six WMMOA members who have or are currently serving as Mentors in the Veterans Court. We are continually seeking new mentors to serve a growing number of program participants. The ideal situation is to have two mentors for each participant. If one of the mentors is not available another can serve as the mentor. As more service women enter the program there is a need for female mentors.
This year we are adding another volunteer position that of “trusted friend”. This position will work with new homeless veterans coming into the program who are in need of housing. The “trusted friend” will work closely with the Veteran to steer them through the challenging process with the Missoula Housing Authority to get the housing they need in the program that is right for them. The “trusted friend” position is more flexible than the court mentor program and does not require as much of a time commitment. This would be a good position for a volunteer looking to ease into the Veterans Court program, (training will be available).
If you would like more information about this rewarding program you can contact Mike Schauf WMMOA Past President at (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Larry Anderson a WMMOA member and mentor at (email@example.com).
WMMOA Speakers Bureau
Over the past 4 years a few Chapter members have shared their military experience with classes in several of the High Schools in Missoula. These presentations were usually part of history classes when the course work covered the period of the Vietnam War. In each case the presentations were well received and the presenters were asked back to present for the next years class. From this early beginning, the Chapter has put together a group of members from all branches of the service with a wide range of military experience and backgrounds. We are advertising this availability of speakers to the area high schools and community clubs and organizations that would be interested in learning more about the US Military and the men and women who serve. If you are interested in becoming part of the group or in having a presentation for a group or school, please contact the WMMOA Speakers Bureau Coordinator Norm Wight at (Montanarosh@bresnan.net)