5 Big Transition Tips from Founder of Veterans Community Project

The Veterans Community Project builds transitional tiny homes for homeless veterans and provides one-stop shop services to help veterans get back on their feet again (photo courtesy of The Veterans Community Project).

When Army veteran Chris Stout transitioned out, he noticed something about homeless people that others didn't: A disproportionate number of them are veterans.

For a while, he used his own money to help put them up in motels, but he knew that wasn't a permanent solution to the growing problem.

He and two other veterans, Kevin Jamison, a Marine, and Mark Solomon, a Navy reservist, came together to found the Veterans Community Project, a nonprofit that builds tiny home villages for homeless veterans, in addition to providing a one-stop shop for other services.

The Veterans Community Project's community center is situated in south Kansas City, Missouri, and has helped more than 8,000 veterans transition from homelessness back to a stable community and a steady job.

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Stout has seen his own share of struggles and knows intimately how difficult it can be for veterans to ask for help.

He said veterans firsts need to overcome the stigma associated with asking for help and know that the veteran community is there for them. He also emphasized that vets need to hold on to their military training about being accountable and owning their actions. He believes that, by owning their bad choices, they can find their way out of a vicious cycle and begin making choices that lead to healing and wholeness.

Here are Stout's top tips for veterans looking to transition to civilian life:

1. Connect with other veterans in your community. They will have learned lessons and have guidance more valuable than a brochure.

2. Ask for assistance before it's too late. When Plan A doesn't pan out, be prepared to execute a Plan B and ask for help pulling yourself out of the hole.

3. You're not alone. You're not the first to struggle with the Department of Veterans Affairs, and you're not the first to struggle with home life. Know that there are people who understand and can help sort it out. Often, when veterans transition, they view it as if they are the only ones traveling this road or the first blazing the trail. That's not the case

4. If you're a veteran, act like one. That means accepting responsibility, being on time, holding yourself accountable, having integrity and not acting entitled.

5. Work as hard as you did while you were in the service each and every day. It doesn't matter what you decide to do when you get out; if you keep the drive, you will be OK.

-- Sean Mclain Brown can be reached at sean.brown@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @seanmclainbrown.

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