Eleven years ago, Darryl Vincent began his career with U.S. VETS.
He had been working as a clinical supervisor with Institute for Human Services. But after meeting with the U.S. VETS’ then-chief operation officer, who was recruiting at the time, the former Marine realized it was the perfect fit.
“To be honest with you, it was a luck of the draw, meeting a company that was working in the field that I was choosing to work in already,” he says, “and that I had some … affinity and passion for it anyway, given that I served in the military as well.”
Today, Vincent, who appeared on MidWeek‘s June 7, 2006, cover, serves as COO, supervising the organization’s executive directors at 11 different sites in six states and the District of Columbia.
And though he says there are challenges dealing with bureaucracy issues and funding, his job also is rewarding.
“I know that every day I am blessed to say that I’m … playing my part in helping people who need help,” he says. “That’s what it’s all about for us.”
The organization continues to address issues of homelessness for veterans. Recent initiatives such as Housing First place homeless veterans directly into permanent housing, versus previous programs in which they were first taken to transitional homes.
Also newly launched, Supportive Services for Veteran Families takes veterans and their families directly off streets and into homes with financial assistance. Counseling and other education also are provided to ensure individual stability.
Above all, U.S. VETS’ newer programs seek to address the changing needs of veterans, to provide more personalized services.
“If I could summarize it, it is adjusting our existing transitional programs to meet the needs of the homeless, so permanent housing becomes available more quickly, sooner rather than later,” he says.
To raise some needed funds, U.S. VETS hosts its 10th annual Patriotic Glow 5K Run Saturday, Nov. 15, at Pointer Field in Kapolei. Activities begin at 4 p.m. and the run starts at 6. The evening includes a “battle of the branches,” during which different military branches will compete for a perpetual trophy, as well as food trucks, entertainment and prizes. Participants are encouraged to dress accordingly by wearing items that will glow with the aid of lighting along the path.
In coming years, Vincent says prevention will be key, especially with the downsizing of military personnel in Hawaii.
“We don’t want them coming out needing our program,” he says, noting that the organization hopes to work with the Department of Defense and Veteran Affairs to ensure those discharged from the military immediately benefit from U.S. VETS’ services.
“Let’s all work together to make sure veterans have a place to go before they even need a homeless program,” he adds.
For more information on the Patriotic Glow 5K Run, visit usvetsinc.org/barberspoint. Registration costs $55 for individuals ($40 online) or $45 for military ($35 online); free for children under age 10.