CINCINNATI — There’s a special ethos that weaves through almost every military veteran. It doesn’t matter if you’re an Airman, a Marine, a soldier or a sailor. It helps drive veterans and active service to continue to be a battle buddy to our fellow brothers and sisters in arms.
“Having those individuals there who are a presence in the community, they are right there to be a resource in the community,” said USA Cares communications manager Aubrey Gonzalez.
She’s referring to veterans knowing the resources available, like USA Cares, and with a keen ear to hear when a service member or veteran needs that hand up.
“We provide financial and advocacy assistance to post-9/11 veterans, their family members, active-duty US personnel who are struggling with, let’s say, the negative side effects of service,” Gonzalez said.
Since 2011, Louisville, Kentucky-based USA Cares has granted $8,490,745 to help veterans and service members with a variety of issues, from mortgage and rent payments to putting food on the table and more, according to their most recent report.
“The most common one we receive is for housing, rental assistance, eviction prevention, foreclosure prevention. People who are just trying to make their bills, make their payments so they don’t go out on the streets, so their families don’t get separated,” said Gonzalez.
She said approximately 250 calls a week come in, directly tied to those needs specifically.
The pandemic added additional needs and concerns for many families.
“With COVID, we’ve seen a number of individuals struggling with the social isolation, the distancing requirements,” Gonzalez said. “It’s really exacerbated issues veterans are having, especially those suffering from PTSD, traumatic brain injury and military sexual trauma."
USA Cares reports 82 cents of every dollar donated goes directly toward helping veterans.
“It’s been an amazing thing to see how much money goes out nationwide and overseas to assist these men, women and children,” Gonzalez said. “The bulk of it comes from this pocket right here: Indiana, Kentucky and Southwest Ohio.”
In order to further assist local veterans, USA Cares is opening up a Southwest Ohio chapter.
“We were able to work together with several individuals in the area and form this chapter,” said Gonzalez.
For Mike Brown, Air Force veteran and owner of downtown Cincinnati's Rebel Mettle Brewery, having one more resource in Southwest Ohio is helpful.
“The ability to have those contacts, we have the ability to outreach immediately and be like this is what is going on. Do you mind speaking with this person?” Brown said.
As a new establishment just opening up in September of 2020 amid the pandemic, Brown said, Rebel Mettle isn't in a position to make large donations to help veterans, but is grateful USA Cares can turn what they do donate into so much more.
“Us having the ability to partner up with USA Cares allows us to have more of a breadth, so to speak, a larger audience base so we can help in our small way of giving back to the community,” Brown said.
To launch the Southwest Ohio chapter, the organization is hosting a golf outing to help bring in donations to support it.
That event is a special fundraiser golf tournament. The event is May 10 at TPC River’s Bend Golf Course. You can register here.