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Veterans Build: The What and The Why


Greater Jackson Habitat for Humanity is a Veterans Build Habitat affiliate. In this article we’ll share what that means and why it’s important to Jackson County.


What does it mean to be a Veterans Build Habitat affiliate? (The What)


For a local Habitat for Humanity affiliate to be a Veterans Build affiliate, they have to pledge to 5 areas of focus for local veterans:

  1. Build

  2. Employment

  3. Volunteer Engagement

  4. Education

  5. Honor

Build


Build is at the heart of Habitat’s Veterans Build program. Every veteran deserves safe, decent, affordable housing. Serving veterans in this area sometimes means partnering with a veteran for homeownership opportunities. This means working alongside the veteran to build his or her own home and providing mortgage and veterans resources for them to purchase the home after it is complete.


Other times Veterans Build Habitat affiliates serve veteran homeowners with programs to maintain and preserve their homes and help to make them more energy efficient.


Employment


Habitat for Humanity Veterans Build affiliates actively recruit veterans when there are employment and internship opportunities. The skills gained from military service are valuable, and many times taking an internship or extended volunteer opportunity (AmeriCorps) is a great way for a military member to transition from active duty into civilian employment.


Volunteer Engagement


Veterans Build affiliates offer volunteer experiences that bring veterans and their families together with their local community and neighbors. This provides a valuable opportunity to foster community engagement, which is important for veterans transitioning into civilian life.


Education


Habitat for Humanity offers financial education and counseling to veterans, often with an end goal of homeownership. And beyond the purchase of a home, Habitat’s programs support successful homeownership for veterans and military homeowners.


In addition, Habitat trains employees and volunteers on military culture to increase our effectiveness in interacting with veterans and military families.


Honor


Habitat Veterans Build affiliates host special events throughout the year to celebrate and honor veterans and mobilize volunteers. These events serve to raise awareness of veterans' challenges and the resources available to them.


Jackson County Veterans, By the Numbers (The Why)


Jackson County is home to 9,378 veterans, which is 7.5% of the population (US Census Bureau). Approximately 40% of these veterans are Vietnam war era veterans with a median age of 68. The next largest group of Jackson County veterans is from the second Gulf war era (2001 - 2022), ages 24 - 45. This is followed by the first Gulf war veterans (1990s), who are ages 45-54.


Jackson County’s veteran population is expected to increase slightly to between 9,600 and 10,000 over the next two years. Our largest group of veterans are deep into retirement age at this point and will likely start needing assistance with maintaining their homes.


Our youngest group of veterans are likely coming back into civilian life at a relatively young age. Many of these young people entered the military directly after high school. Now that they’ve served their country and are back and ready to settle into a civilian career, purchase a home, and perhaps start a family, Habitat for Humanity is here for them to support with education and opportunity.


Jackson Habitat, as a Veterans Build affiliate, serves both of these groups of veterans in each of the five areas listed above.

  • Build: Jackson Habitat is embarking on its first Veterans Build new-build project in 2024. The house will be built at 503 Bates St. in the city of Jackson. We will partner with a Jackson veteran to help build and purchase this home. In addition, many older veterans are served by our repair program, replacing roofs, furnaces, etc., and modifications for accessibility.

  • Employment: Jackson Habitat partners with local veterans organizations to offer internship and training opportunities for veterans who have an interest in residential construction, architecture, mortgages, and human services careers. In addition, when an open position for employment is available, we actively recruit for veterans.

  • Volunteer Engagement: Many of our regular volunteers are veterans who are now retired from their civilian careers and find camaraderie and community engagement in becoming part of a group of volunteers who work together week after week. We also actively recruit teams of veterans for build days on many of our build sites.

  • Education: Through Habitat for Humanity of Michigan’s housing counseling and financial education programs, Jackson Habitat offers Jackson County veterans a wide variety of services, including:

    • homeowner education

    • financial management and budget counseling

    • post-purchase financial services

    • information on fair housing, predatory lending, rental housing, and homelessness resources

    • connections with local lenders for mortgage services

  • Honor: Jackson Habitat partners with various veterans organizations to make connections for veterans to resources designed to assist our country’s honorable veterans.

Federal, state, and local governments offer special programs for veterans. Habitat for Humanity is positioned to help connect veterans with these programs and leverage opportunities for our veterans to have safe, decent, affordable housing. This can come in the form of becoming a new homeowner or assistance in maintenance for existing veteran homeowners.


Jackson Habitat is proud to be a Habitat Veterans Build affiliate, serving veterans in Jackson County. For more information on our first Veterans Build and how to get involved, call 517-784-6620 or email Sheila Everts at sheilae@jacksonhabitat.org.



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