Two-day summit focuses on veteran mental health, homelessness

Event includes benefits and job fair to help struggling veterans get back on their feet

Getting struggling veterans back on their feet is the focus of a two-day event in La Crosse this week.

The Tomah VA Medical Center is partnering with Viterbo and the Ho-Chunk Nation for the annual Mental Health and Homeless Summit for veterans.

For the first time, the summit included a benefits and job fair Tuesday afternoon, giving veterans and their families a one-stop-shop for information on medical benefits, screenings and job openings.

Organizers say the hope is to give veterans everything they need to get back on the right path.

“Earlier today, there was a potentially homeless veteran that was out of work. Through the groups that were here today, that veteran left here not only with a job, but then also has a place to live,” said Matthew Gowan of the Tomah VA Medical Center.

Veterans say they appreciate the helping hand once they return from deployment and try to settle back into civilian life.

“It can get a little confusing coming back home,” said U.S. Army Reserve veteran John Fann, who served a tour in the Middle East. “With this type of job fair and information that’s being given out, it’s definitely a good thing to have.”

The summit continues Wednesday with presentations from VA Deputy Under Secretary Dr. Carolyn Clancy and Don Weber on how communities can continue to support veterans and their families.