The Atlanta City Council approved a resolution on Monday establishing the Atlanta Commission on Veteran Affairs for the purpose of serving in an advisory capacity on legislative issues affecting the city’s military population.
The advisory commission was formed at the recommendation of Atlanta City Council President Ceasar C. Mitchell.
As thousands of United States Military men and women return home from foreign conflicts, many are faced with challenges of reintegrating into civilian life that may include physical and mental health issues, job training and placement, homelessness and other challenges.
“The creation of the Atlanta Commission on Veteran’s Affairs is vitally important as we create and provide services to the men and women who have served our country through military service,” said Council President Mitchell. “Our veterans often have unique challenges and the Commission will help ensure that those challenges are met in a way that best serves those who sacrificed for our country.”
The Atlanta Commission on Veteran Affairs will consist of nine (9) voting members to be appointed by the following:
Two (2) representatives appointed by the Mayor
· One of the appointments by the Mayor should have a background in affordable housing
· One of the appointments by the Mayor should have a background in financial literacy and assistance
Two (2) representatives appointed by the City Council President
· One appointment by The City Council President should have a background in military family and spousal support
· One appointment by the City Council President should have a background in job placement for veterans
Three (3) representatives appointed by the City Council
· One appointment, made by Councilmembers from District 1, 2, 3, 4 and Post 1, should have a background in elderly services for veterans
· One appointment, made by Councilmembers from District 5, 6, 7, 8 and Post 2, should have a background in homeless services for veterans
· One appointment, made by Councilmembers from District 9, 10, 11, 12 and Post 3, should have a background in the Atlanta VA Medical Center
One (1) representative appointed by the Fulton County Commission
· The Fulton County Commission appointment should have background in mental healthcare for veterans ( Mental health experience can include training in items such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, substance abuse, and suicide prevention )
One (1) representative appointed by the Georgia Department of Veterans Services
“By putting together a team of people who represent a diversity of services, we help ensure a multi-faceted approach to giving back to our veterans,” Mitchell said.
According to Veterans Empowerment Organization of Georgia (VEO), one of the biggest challenges facing many of America’s veterans is homelessness.
In Georgia, as in most states, a substantial number of returning veterans are unwillingly channeled into homelessness, due to a lack of employment, affordable housing, family support, post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or other injuries, and the long-term consequences of war. They reside on the streets, where they can suffer from a whole host of other physical and emotional problems as a result.
An estimated 2,000 Veterans already reside on the streets of Atlanta, according to the VEO. With an estimated 2,000 additional veterans returning to Georgia from overseas deployment over the next several years, the number of veterans in urgent need of housing, job opportunities, job training and other support to keep them off the streets will substantially increase.
“As a veteran of the United States Air Force Reserve, I support the legislation for the Veteran’s Commission,” said U.S. Air Force Reserve Veteran Jai White. “It is imperative to have programs available for veterans as they transition from military to civilian status. Too many of our veterans are returning home only to be treated like second class citizens. Freedom is not free, and veterans make the sacrifice to serve our country so others can have a better life.
“I feel that the new Veteran’s Commission will give veterans a viable resource and a voice to address those issues so they can continue to be productive citizens. The Veteran’s Commission will also be a great platform for veterans to discuss the aforementioned issues and not feel embarrassed and/or ashamed in seeking help.”
The Atlanta Commission on Veteran Affairs will hold its first meeting within 60 days of the majority of the commission members being appointed and confirmed by the Atlanta City Council, Council President Mitchell said.