UTICA, N.Y. -- A local veteran is sharing his thoughts on ending veteran homelessness, following Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente’s state of the county address where he announced his plan to end veteran homelessness by 2022.
Vincent Scalise, executive director of the Veterans Outreach Center, says he's happy that someone in a high position is taking the initiative to end veteran homelessness in the county.
Scalise has a personal tie to helping veterans. Not only is he a veteran, he says he fought alongside veterans who later became homeless. That's when he decided to open the veterans outreach center in Utica.
“Right after I returned from Iraq in 2005, and ran into a lot of my fellow veterans that were having issues, and a few were homeless and there was nothing in Oneida County for them,” said Scalise. “The closest resources were Syracuse and Albany.”
County officials are planning to merge social service departments into one, with the new department focusing on helping vets in need. Scalise says there are nearly 100 homeless vets in Oneida County and he hopes to partner with the county to help tackle the issue.
"In Oneida County we have a homelessness problem and I’m sure that anyone that drives around Utica sees it," Scalise said.
"We know that the veteran’s population is smaller and we really believe and we see that and are working with all of these cross agencies that we can eradicate homelessness," said Picente.
Scalise says in order to tackle veteran homelessness, you have to first address what caused them to be homeless.
“You have to look at the big picture. You just can’t say hey you’re homeless I want to give you a home. Why are you homeless? Was it due to addiction? Was it due to family disruption? Was it due to gambling, alcoholism, death? Whatever the case may be,”
Scalise says that with enough effort he's sure that veteran homelessness can end by picente's goal of 2022.