US Veterans Initiative President Steve Peck Talks About Struggling Veterans

image from the U.S. Veterans Initiative site

Stephen Peck, M.S.W., President & CEO
One organization local veterans rely on for housing, career development and counseling is the U.S. Veterans Initiative. Houston is one of U.S Vets eleven locations around the country and every quarter its directors get together to discuss the work they do.

Up until three or four years ago, the U.S. Veterans Initiative was solely taking care of the veterans they housed on their properties. But president Steve Peck started to realize that wasn’t enough, especially with so many returning veterans. 

“It’s important that we do a very aggressive outreach into the community to contact these young veterans. Like all veterans before them, they don’t wanna admit that they have combat stress. There’s some stigma associated with that.”

It also helps catching them when they’ve just left the military.

For older veterans who’ve been on the streets, battling their demons longer, it’s not such an easy fix.

“The challenge with the Vietnam veterans is some of them have suffered it for so long — twenty, thirty, fourty years — that’s a different kind of problem. It’s had many other negative impacts in their life including families have broken up, lack of employment and substance abuse.”

Peck, a former Vietnam veteran, says he plans to continue the work they do by growing their outreach programs.

“We have a program called 'Outside the Wire,' which is a counseling program for young veterans out in the community colleges. Now we’re reaching out into the community, providing services for veterans who hopefully will never become homeless.”

Locally in their Midtown office, Houston U.S. Veterans Initiative serves over 300 vets daily. They hope to add another 192 to that when they complete their new apartment units by the end of the year.

Bio photo of Edel Howlin

Edel Howlin

Producer, Houston Matters

Edel is a producer on Houston Matters and reporter for PBS’s Newshour Weekend...