November 11 - November 13
Bridging The Gap (BTG) — Our organization, established in 2011, Bridging The Gap is a 501(c)(3) foundation that is dedicated to assisting our Veterans. BTG works DIRECTLY with the Veterans on a one-on-one basis – we’re NOT a call center. No one in our organization collects a salary – everyone works on a volunteer basis. We don’t just listen to their stories and tell the Veterans where to go get help; WE ARE THE HELP. We provide food, and shelter, and educational assistance DIRECTLY to as many Veterans as we can afford to. There is no long, tedious, confusing application process for them. If we have the space available in one of our residential centers, the Veteran is invited to come live at one of those centers that very same day.
BTG believes that it takes the COMMUNITY not the GOVERNMENT to take care of our Veterans.
We started with Bridging The Gap of Georgia. We branched out to Bridging The Gap of America and now have extended to Bridging The Gap of South Carolina. We are working hard to bridge the gap for veterans in all parts of the United States of America.
Bridging the Gap is a mentor-based program for veterans to help them reintegrate back into society using the bridges program. Bridging The Gap looks at ways to decrease the recidivism and homeless in participants and move them towards a successful re-entry program. We implemented BRIDGES.
We also forge the missing link between veterans and the resources they need to heal and thrive. We help them feel like the heroes they are.
Mission To provide veterans, active duty service members and their families holistic coaching services to foster happy, well adjusted, housed, and employed members of society.
Our veterans are hurting –
The horrors of war can leave emotional scars that are just too much to bear. Soldiers are returning from battle every day with “Post-Combat Reactions,” (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) and other “silent” disabilities.
What can we do to know how to help veterans who have served and suffer?
Based on the simple, time-tested principle of one individual helping another, we provide veterans an opportunity to network and help one another “bridge the gap.” We also forge the missing link between veterans and the resources they need to heal and thrive.
We help them feel like the heroes they are.
Bridging The Gap brings hope to the individuals who have lost theirs, motivation to the veteran who has none, and determination to the life that feels futile. We are people that know how to help veterans.
As members of the military, many veterans are hesitant to seek help.
They do not want to appear weak. They fear what their friends and family will think. They are afraid and can’t ask for support. Help and support, however, are what those suffering with illnesses or addictions stemming from PTSD or war-related injuries need the most. They need a large and unyielding support group. It matters not whether the support system is made up of good friends, family members, citizens from the community, or all of the above. What matters is that the support is there, support is how to help veterans.
BTG is a 501(c)3 Nonprofit Organization 501(c)3 letter
- "America the Beautiful" Program [AKA Field Trips / Activities]
The BTG housing activities coordinator works with associations, faith-based organizations, businesses and agencies within our communities to provide activities that enhance living in a BTG home.
Both residents and non-residents are able to participate in a variety of enjoyable activities including gardening, outings and planned field trips, volunteer opportunities, and various entertainment and other programs. In addition, our activities coordinator plans activities for our veterans such as: Walking groups, Art & Craft groups, Games, Movie trips, Trips to museums and memorials, Trips to other places of interest.
- BTG’s “VetCare” Health & Wellness Program provides resources to obtain physical, mental and emotional care that helps veterans develop coping mechanisms and supports reintegration into their families and communities.
This care contributes to BTG’s success in reducing homelessness. Programs and referrals are also available for non-resident veterans.
The program includes access to Doctors and Registered Nurses experienced in working with homeless individuals, and a Wellness Coordinator who creates and manages individual wellness programs.
Health & Wellness services include:
- Physical and mental health assessments
- Direct medical care (medication monitoring, health screenings, preventative health care services) provided by partnered facilities
- Referrals to offsite providers
- Onsite diabetic support groups
- Psychological counseling including onsite support groups for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD); socialization skills training; and anger management classes
- Substance abuse treatment and counseling, including onsite support groups for relapse prevention
- Health education (nutrition, fitness, etc.)
- Smoking cessation programs
- Group exercise sessions and visits to local gyms and physical activity facilities
- Social enrichment activities such as fishing, musical groups, creative writing and creative arts
- Stress reduction and stress management through counseling, exercise, massage, acupuncture, Reiki and yoga
- Eye exams and glasses, through Mass Health or VA healthcare facilities
- Dental exams through Mass Health or VA healthcare facilities
- Transportation to VA healthcare and other medical facilities
- Wellness programs tailored to the veteran.
The need for physical and mental health support is critical to getting veterans off the streets and into stable, long-term housing, as these statistics show:
- One in 10 veterans is disabled. That number is increasing — more than 20,000 veterans have been wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.
- 45% of homeless veterans suffer from mental illness including PTSD.
- 19% of Iraq veterans report mental health problems, as do more than 11% of Afghanistan veterans.
- BTG will assist veterans who only need assistance with a deposit to move into stable housing. The housing crisis is particularly critical on veterans trying to gain permanent and stable housing.
Most rental property owners require some type of security deposit for new renters. Often, the amount of the security deposit is equal to two month’s rent. For many low or moderate income veterans living from paycheck to paycheck, the required security deposit is a large up-front cost that they cannot afford, even if they can afford to pay the monthly rent. BTG Rental Deposit Guarantee Program provides veterans a means to move into rental housing. Its main characteristics are:
- Security deposits are payable in installments.
- Landlord is guaranteed the full the full amount of the deposit.
- Prospective veterans are screened to determine their financial standing.
- Assist veterans who need help with delinquent utility bills or deposits to move into or continue to live in stable housing. This program helps veterans who are facing a utility crisis and are without resources to resolve the crisis.
It helps veterans to keep or gain safe and healthy housing by providing funds for utility security deposits for heating and electrical deposits. The applicant must be experiencing or threatened by one or more of the following:
- Termination of a utility; or
- Lack of heat, electricity or cooking fuel
The emergency situation must not be caused by the veteran’s refusal to accept or continue with employment or training.
- Our nation understands that the men and women who defend our constitution across multiple continents have experiences that can be difficult to process. PSTD, TBI, Depression and Anxiety are responses to abnormal situations our military members are sometimes placed in.
Veterans who feel mental pain associated with their service to our nation, whenever they left the military can find help at Bridging The Gap.
Not knowing where you’ll sleep at night, having no place to keep your belongings, not having the ability to care for yourself or family, leads to stress, anger, shame, depression, guilt and loneliness. These are the invisible wounds that cause our heroes to live a life of despair and decay. Left unaddressed it worsened until there is no hope.
Bridging The Gap provides counseling to help with managing anger, building communication, recognizing stress and trauma. We discuss with the veteran individually and in group helping them to cope with issues relating to stress, nightmares, anger, shame, and depression. BTG helps them to take action to address issues that is preventing them from having a happy, healthy and fulfilling life.
- At least 53% of returning veterans meet the criteria for suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Depression. 57% of our veterans haven’t been evaluated. It can take up to five years for a veteran to get approved for their VA benefits.
Many of our veterans don’t know how to or become discouraged in trying to cut through all the red tape confronting them trying to get their benefits, especially, if it was other than an honorable discharge. With no source of income or insurance for treatment their condition worsens.
We collaborate with physicians, psychologists and pharmacies to obtain in-kind contributions or subsidize or purchase critical healthcare and necessary prescriptions until their VA benefits are activated. This eliminates the need or desires for veterans to self-medicate to deal with mental and emotional trauma. When they reside in our residential centers we administer the medication to ensure its not being abused.
- As generations of Americans have witnessed, veterans can be counted on to get the job done. However, many veterans return home with physical or emotional injuries, or limited job skills, that restrict their ability to find and hold jobs.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, the unemployment rate for recently discharged veterans is nearly three times that of the national rate.
BTG’s Job Readiness program provides assessments, training and job search support aimed to help homeless veterans obtain and retain jobs so they can stabilize their lives, which leads to obtaining permanent housing and becoming self-sufficient. Non-homeless veterans are also eligible for the program.
BTG’s holistic and realistic approach to ending homelessness among veterans takes into account that success in the workplace often hinges on employees’ ability to successfully manage other areas of their lives. Veterans are counseled in Life Skills, Money Management, Stress Management, Harassment in the workplace and other related areas. BTG coordinates transportation to and from training or work, further eliminating potential obstacles to job success. In addition, BTG will help with matching affordable child care and preschool for veterans with dependents.
BTG networks with local, regional, and state businesses, organizations and schools to develop education and job opportunities for Veterans and create practicum, apprenticeships, internships and job opportunities for veterans. We also work with veterans and help them gain college credits for prior military duties, training and coursework.
BTG continually builds a network of support for veterans so that they can compete and thrive in the high-demand areas of the civilian job market. This program will bridge gaps between disabled, homeless, women and/or other career challenged Veterans and stable job opportunities, in the following emerging areas:
Green Technology, Food Services, Agricultural Technology & Management, Sales & Marketing, Security, Administration, Architecture, Manufacturing, Estimating, Fundraising, Management, Nonprofit Development, Grant writing, Social Networking Management, Purchasing, Wholesale and Retail Supply and other fields identified as critical.
BTG’s objective is to assure veterans are “JOB READY”. We will continually direct and encourage our veterans to utilize the educational and job support benefits available to them and their families through not just the Veterans Administration, but also with other complimentary support programs, community networks and support systems created to further the mission of BTG. Improving the Veteran’s skill level will allow them the most successful career opportunities. It is a consistent, sustainable income stream that leads toward permanent housing for themselves and their families.
- Many veterans who are waiting for needed VA benefits are seriously restricted because they do not have the income or resources to utilize public transportation or other means of travel.
BTGG assists with MARTA cards and network with transportation companies to make it easier for veterans to have rides to work, school and medical care. This helps to address barriers to success by making transportation accessible no-matter where they live work and receive medical care.