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Jobs Program Gives Once-Homeless Philadelphia Veterans A Brighter Future

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(Seated, L-R: graduates James Sauls, Stan Broadwater, Denise Harrison, Andy Saxon, James Fealey, and Maurice Johnson. A seventh graduate, Melvin Johnson, could not attend because he was working.  Standing: officials of program sponsors Peco and Exelon, with Project HOME founder, Sister Mary Scullion, at center.  Credit: Pat Loeb)

(Seated, L-R: graduates James Sauls, Stan Broadwater, Denise Harrison, Andy Saxon, James Fealey, and Maurice Johnson. A seventh graduate, Melvin Johnson, could not attend because he was working. Standing: officials of program sponsors Peco and Exelon, with Project HOME founder, Sister Mary Scullion, at center. Credit: Pat Loeb)

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By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Two local institutions teamed up today to celebrate the success of a program that returns formerly homeless veterans to fulltime employment and all the benefits that brings.

Today was graduation day for seven military veterans who completed the program.

“We stand before you all, either employed or furthering our education,” said James Sauls (seated far left), former US Army, giving the valedictory speech for the Veterans Training and Employment Program, an effort of Project HOME, supported by Peco.

The ten-month program puts veterans in an internship and gives them a mentor and extra training, and is proof, says director Ed Speedling, that veteran homelessness is not an intractable problem.

“You achieve what you believe in, and you achieve what you work hard for,” he says.

Some of the men overcame addiction while going through the program, some moved from shelter to permanent housing.  Andy Saxon (seated, third from right) learned Spanish during his internship at Ceiba and is graduating to a job at the zoo.

“It means a sense of accomplishment and a sense of pride, completing something that I started, all the way to the end,” he said today.

Read the recent KYW Regional Affairs Council series, “Coming Home: Are WE Ready?”

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