PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Pittsburgh boasts one of the largest populations of veterans in the United States, yet there is no military base nearby to provide many essential services.
But now, the Veterans Administration will have a full-time employee in the mayor’s office as part of a new program called Homefront Pittsburgh.
Coming home for a soldier isn’t always as easy as making Pittsburgh your permanent address after military service.
“Right now, six years later, everything is great and wonderful, but coming out, it was an extreme challenge. It took me almost a year to get a job,” said Lynn Strezeski, an Army veteran.
Strezeski has been out of the Army for six years.
She now has career in the federal government and is working on a PhD at Robert Morris University. But her story of struggle in making the transition to civilian life is why Homefront Pittsburgh happened.
“We are looking for new missions for veterans who want to come back. Veterans have great skills and abilities. You can hear them working in the background still. They didn’t want to stop, and when they come back, they are looking for opportunities to serve,” said James O’Connor, of The Mission Continues Pittsburgh.
The initiative is a joint venture between the mayor’s office and the Veterans Administration.
“There may not be any cities that offer it in a very simple form to the veterans to be able to utilize all the resources that are already here. Pittsburgh’s going to be that city,” says Mayor Bill Peduto.
“Without the leadership of our elected officials, Councilman [Corey] O’Connor and Council [Daniel] Gilman are also here today. The mayor’s office has been a strong supporter of our work at Rebuilding Pittsburgh, and we are grateful for his support,” said Jason Tigana, of Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh.
The announcement was made in Hazelwood where post-9/11 vets have been hard at work rehabbing another veteran’s home.
“It’s making me cry. I never expected to see young veterans come in and do the kind of things they are doing to help me — an old veteran. It just blows my mind. I mean I am very impressed with the young guys today,” the veteran said.