Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center
CRRC Offers Resources for Vets in the Area
Veterans in the Lowcountry have one more weapon in their arsenal in the fight against homelessness-the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center's Community Resource and Referral Center, a one-stop shop for Veterans seeking housing, employment and educational opportunities, and information related to VA benefits.
The greater Charleston area is home to more than 31,000 Veterans according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau data. The newly opened CRRC is a welcome addition to a community where the number of homeless Veterans continues to climb.
The resource center provides a range of community-based, multiagency services to area Veterans who are homeless and at risk of homelessness. A full transitional housing team offers assessments and referrals for housing and community resources, placing several Veterans per week into transitional housing.
Since its opening in June 2015, over 700 Veterans have visited the center seeking services. VA employees, community partners and contractors work side by side at the CRRC to show men and women who have at one time served our country that the VA is not only interested in their health, but in their total well-being. The full wraparound services offered at the CRRC promote permanent housing solutions, health and mental health care, career development and access to VA and non-VA benefits.
"We offer a small, very personable environment here," says Theresa Williams, supervisor of the Community Resource and Referral Center. "We get to know our Veterans well, so they trust us knowing we're going to do everything we can to take care of them."
Located in North Charleston, the CRCC is about 15 minutes from downtown and the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center. Sharing a building with the American Red Cross and situated just steps away from North Charleston's City Hall, the VA's CRRC is surrounded by other organizations that share the goal of meeting the community's needs.
Williams thinks the area is ideal for Veterans seeking services closer to home. "Many of the Veterans we serve live in and around North Charleston, so it's great have the CRRC here-a location that's easy to get to, and in an area that many Veterans are already familiar with."
What's more, the CRRC is on the bus line so it is easily accessible for Veterans. And for Veterans who need to get to the VA medical center, volunteers from the organization Disabled American Veterans offers rides from the CRRC to the hospital twice daily.
In 2010, the VA launched the End Veteran Homelessness initiative, an unprecedented effort to make sure Veterans are able to obtain permanent housing and that Veterans at risk of homelessness remain housed. Programs like the ones offered at the CRRC through its community partnerships function to reverse the trend of homelessness among those who have served.
In addition to programs for housing and vocational rehabilitation, the CRRC also offers educational programs and walk-in clinics where Veterans can get legal services and information about their VA benefits, as well as limited health services, some of which include telehealth services and recreational therapy.
This Friday, the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center, in partnership with Goodwill Industries of Lower South Carolina and Palmetto Warrior Connection, is holding its 16th Annual Stand Down Against Homelessness at the Community Resource and Referral Center. The event, geared toward helping Veterans get back on their feet, will offer medical screenings and assistance, clothing, food, haircuts, and legal counseling for hundreds of homeless Veterans in the greater Charleston area. Job assistance and opportunities to speak with local employers will be available for those seeking work.
In years past, Stand Down has been held at North Charleston Armory Park. However, this year the event will be held at the Community Resources and Referral Center.
"The CRRC is a great place to hold this event since most of the services that Veterans have come to expect at Stand Down are available year-round at the CRRC," said Williams. "Stand Down is an opportunity for Charleston Veterans to see what the center has to offer and familiarize themselves with the people here."
Stand Down runs from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on October 30, with a Veteran Listening Forum with Charleston VA Medical Center director Scott Isaacks from 8:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
CRRC would not be the success that it is without the support of its community partners, many of whom will be represented at this year's Stand Down. Some of these partners include:
- Goodwill Industries of Lower South Carolina
- Palmetto Warrior Connection
- Charleston Vet Center
- Family Services, Inc.
- SC Works: Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program
- South Carolina Legal Services
- South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation Program
- Supportive Services for Veterans Families through One 80 Place
- Trident Technical College Upward Bound
The CRRC is located at 2424 City Hall Lane in North Charleston and is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.