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WBZ Cares: Veterans Non-Profit Offer Safe Haven For Those On Path to Sobriety

BOSTON (CBS) - The WBZ Cares Campaign continues for the month of November.
Each month, WBZ NewsRadio 1030 highlights a worthy non-profit organization and tells the story of what it does for the community.

For the month of November, WBZ profiles "New England Center & Home For Veterans," a national leader in housing and serving veterans who are at risk of homelessness.

The Boston-based group offers services throughout the region, supporting and connecting veterans with innovative services that enable success, meaningful employment, and dignified independent living.

The center now has a safe haven program which provides temporary beds for the veteran to get sober and come back for treatment instead of putting them out on the street.

As soon as a veteran walks through the door, they are assessed and given an individual service plan and care to meet their specific challenges, whether it be PTSD, substance abuse or mental health issues.

"Everybody gets a housing advocate then they can, for example, be assigned to trauma specialist case manager or to the person who works with our seniors our senior services program, or to someone who specializes in chronic mental illness." said Kristine Dinardo, Vice President of Human Services at NECHV.

Dinardo explains that these specialists are either licensed social workers or licensed mental health clinicians who are able to provide the specific counseling services or substance use disorders for veterans who have trauma-related issues, or people who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

The center softened its zero tolerance abstinence policy in 2013 after seeing it was not working. They now have a safe haven program which provides ten temporary beds for veterans who haven't yet kicked their substance abuse addictions.

"People are not allowed to bring drugs and alcohol into the center, but we don't release people for being under the influence" Dinardo said.

"Instead of calling the front desk and saying 'Please come and get Mr. X, and escort him out of the building because he is under the influence.' we say, 'Mr. X, you know what? I want you to just go bed, sleep it off and come back either later on this afternoon or come back tomorrow and see me. And we will continue our conversation.'" Dinardo said.

Dinardo says case managers and counselors understand that addiction is a disease, and that recovery is a process.

"When we release people for drinking, where are they getting their services from? So we are losing veterans to the street instead of keeping them here and continuing to work with folks."

If you'd like to know more about NECHV, volunteer or wish to make a donation, visit their website

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