Memorial Day is a fine American tradition. Once a year, we have the opportunity to pause and reflect on those who have died while serving in the country’s armed forces. Having now just celebrated the occasion, it behooves us to think more broadly about veteran’s affairs and the ways in which we as a community can support those who have sacrificed and served.
Cincinnati veterans are fortunate in terms of the services and opportunities available to them. This means, of course, that the rest of the Queen City’s population can easily become involved in the projects and programs that serve our nation’s veterans.
Of particular note to those living in Cincinnati are two organizations: the Joseph House and the Tristate Veterans Community Alliance (TVCA). cincyopolis recently sat down with Nathan Pelletier – Director of the Joseph House, Director at Large on the board of the TVCA, and himself a veteran – in order to learn more about these programs and understand better the needs of veterans in our community.
Mr. Pelletier is a commanding presence in the room. Broad-shouldered and well-spoken, he cuts the sort of figure that one would expect from a soldier. His military history, however, sets him apart from other faces in the crowd. Mr. Pelletier graduated from West Point and completed training at Army Ranger and Airborne schools. He then served in Operation Iraqi Freedom as an infantry platoon leader, an executive officer, and a company commander. As such, he earned a Combat Infantry Badge and a Bronze Star for outstanding leadership. Mr. Pelletier came to Cincinnati to work at P&G and has since shifted his career focus to working with fellow veterans who are finding the transition to civilian life to be particularly difficult.
At Joseph House, Mr. Pelletier manages a staff of twelve people who assist homeless veterans battling addiction. The organization has its headquarters at 1526 Republic Street, but housing for the thirty-six inpatient clients spreads across five properties in Over-the-Rhine. At each building, Joseph House provides a safe and sober living environment as well as personalized counseling and education services.
Joseph House establishes a lasting relationship with its clients. After months of helping clients develop sober living habits, Joseph House personnel help their graduates reunite with family, find steady employment, achieve financial stability, and become mentors and advocates for new clients in the program. Indeed, Joseph House creates a life-long network of support whose goal is to ensure that all veterans thrive as productive members of the civilian community.
The Tristate Veterans Community Alliance shares this laudable goal. The mission of this organization is to make Cincinnati and the surrounding area hospitable to veterans by providing a kind of clearinghouse for available services. Since many veterans and their families may not know how to access particular resources or even know that certain opportunities exist, the TVCA streamlines access and referrals across veteran services in the area. With particular focus on education, employment, mentorship, and health services, the TVCA guides both veterans and their families through the twists and turns of reintegration to civilian life.
Both the Joseph House and the TVCA are looking to improve and expand the work they do in the community. Mr. Pelletier is in the process of a five-year plan to revamp the Joseph House from the inside out. After first focusing internally on developing a lasting clinical and operations team, Mr. Pelletier has turned his focus outward. He is working now to build partnerships with and create awareness in the community in order to connect veterans with the services they need. With greater resources, Mr. Pelletier looks forward to greater outreach to and inclusion of female veterans. He also seeks to centralize operations in a single, modern facility.
To achieve the goals, Mr. Pelletier and the Joseph House staff will need the active support and assistance of the community. To make a donation and to find out how you can help, please follow the links below.