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Texas Veterans Commission awards over $1 million in grants to East Texas veteran services

Published: Sep. 8, 2021 at 5:30 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 8, 2021 at 10:44 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - The Texas Veterans Commission spent the afternoon recognizing recipients of seven grants, adding up to more than $1 million in East Texas.

Kimberlee Shaneyfelt is one of five commissioners for the Texas Veteran Commission and said, “It’s such a tiny thing, it’s just a one or two dollar effort, but when you have many of those you can see the power of that with $33 million in grants in just 2021 and over $200 million in grants throughout the history of this program since 2009.”

Grants range from general assistance to housing and transportation help. Today, Smith County Habitat for Humanity was one of the recipients and got $150,000 to fund home modifications for veterans and their spouses in seven counties. Jack Wilson, CEO of Smith County Habitat for Humanity, said they began the critical repairs program in 2009.

“We have done over 1,200 critical repairs for our veterans, seniors, persons with disabilities, so many of them are our veterans,” Wilson said. “We can’t do what we do without having support from grantors such as the Texas Veterans Commission.”

Wilson said critical repairs can range from holes in floors or ceilings to other large repairs to homes.

“I’ve walked into homes and I’ve seen holes in the floor, I’ve seen the ground. Or I’ve seen the roof has fallen in and I’ve seen daylight up there,” Wilson said. “So when that happens and it’s not fixed, the rain comes in, the insulation gets wet, there’s mold that’s created. We have seen people that actually sleep in other rooms because the rain will come in their bedrooms.”

Wilson said many of them live on Social Security.

“So they have to make a choice between food and medicine and they can’t fix their home. There’s nowhere else in Smith County or other organizations that do critical repairs on their homes,” he said.

The money for today’s grants comes from the veterans’ cash lottery tickets as well as vehicle registrations, and if you get a hunting or fishing license. There’s a box that asks if you’d like to help fund the Texas Veteran Commission.

“That small donation or that lottery ticket that you buy is so powerful when it’s aggregated across the state of Texas,” Shaneyfelt said.

There are about 5,400 veterans who get help between the six organizations that received grants today. For more information on the organizations or to receive help you can visit the following links,

CSN Texas

Smith County Habitat for Humanity

NET Habitat

Community Health Core

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