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Veterans organizations join forces

OCEANSIDE — Veterans Assistance of San Diego, a division of Interfaith Community Services, will be moving its office into the Veterans Association of North County (VANC) building on Mission Avenue come April.

The two veteran service groups have a 10-year MOU to cohabit the 10,000-square-foot building and share in utility and maintenance costs and fundraising to support operations.

Both nonprofits see the move as a big plus.

Veterans benefit by having additional services at one stop.

“It’s exciting seeing all of this become reality,” Sandra Fichter, vice president of VANC, said. The two nonprofits have had an ongoing partnership since VANC opened.

Fichter said Veterans Assistance of San Diego is one of the first organizations she calls to connect veterans with services.

The Veterans Assistance of San Diego provides transitional housing and employment services to veterans, serving more than 300 North County veterans a year.

“Veterans Assistance of San Diego is the largest provider of veterans services in North County,” Dean Dauphinais, Interfaith Community Services director of veterans services, said. “We provide 164 beds for transitional housing for homeless vets and have an employment division.”

Employment services focus on reintegrating veterans into the civilian workforce, which sometimes includes skills training for jobs that have a high demand for workers like solar panel insulation, fiber optics, security and truck driving.

Dauphinais said veterans have the option to pursue a career in these fields or use employment training to land a starter job while they go after greater goals.

He added Veterans Assistance of San Diego temporary housing and employment services have proven very successful. Veterans are able to transition from temporary to permanent housing within nine to 12 months.

Dauphinais credits the success to the program’s extended time period that allows veterans to develop sound work and financial habits. Other programs limit support services to 90 days.

Veterans Assistance of San Diego has been helping veterans for 30 years.

Dauphinais added the services cannot meet every need of veterans.

VANC provides service referrals to 37 partner veteran organizations, and on-site job training for veterans, helping about 2,600 veterans a year.

The nonprofit is an umbrella service provider that helps veterans find the assistance they need.

The mission of both nonprofits is to provide a one-stop shop for veterans to connect with services and avoid the frustration of being bounced from one service organization to the next to receive assistance.

“A lot of them get frustrated because they can’t find services,” Chuck Atkinson, VANC president and founder, said. “If you’ve got one location where you can get what you need it makes it easier on everybody.”

With the move of Veterans Assistance of San Diego in April veterans can check in with the nonprofit and then walk right down the hall to talk to VANC personnel if needed.

“Combining efforts we can streamline the process for vets,” Dauphinais said. “Most of us are veterans ourselves. We don’t want to be the ones holding up the progress. They don’t need more problems added to their plate.” Both organizations work to help veterans become self-sufficient.


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