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STATEWIDE — It doesn’t matter if they’re coming home from active duty, down on their luck, or just trying to press restart on their life – one organization is constantly working for Hoosier veterans.

Helping Veterans and Families of Indiana has helped Hoosier vets get back on their feet since 1993. Back then, HVAF housed five veterans on the east side. But now the operation houses hundreds of Hoosier vets.

On Wednesday, HVAF and the Home Depot Foundation gathered on the grounds of the former Central State to start adding the finishing touches on five transitional houses for veterans.

Emmy Hildebrand is the CEO of HVAF of Indiana. She says this isn’t just a Circle City operation.

“We’re located here in Indianapolis, but we serve veterans throughout central Indiana,” Hildebrand explains, “we do several programs including rental assistance out in the community, legal services and workforce development.”

HVAF tracks down homeless veterans and brings them into the program.

“So once they’re enrolled, in our transitional housing, they’re immediately assigned a case manager and they get their own room,” says Hildebrand. Then HVAF begins searching for whatever services or resources that particular veteran needs.

“That might be substance use, might be mental health, unemployment, physical health – we try to make connections with community providers, including the VA, to make sure all their needs are met,” explains Hildebrand.

The process of building a home is a tough one. It involves volunteers getting their hands dirty. It’s work that the Home Depot Foundation is more than happy to do.

Matt Rice is the District Community Captain for the foundation and store manager for the Carmel Home Depot location. He’s been helping HVAF of Indiana for a long time.

“Probably, I’ve probably been doing this for fifteen years, and so I would bet I’ve done probably between 60 and 70 projects,” says Rice.

“I think our team really enjoys the ability to leave at the end of the day and see the noticeable change of what we’ve done,” Rice explains, “we’ve done projects where we’ve left and HVAF has brought veterans off the street to be in that same residence that night. That was our first project many years ago.”

HVAF of Indiana and the Home Depot Foundation are currently working together on five existing homes, on North Warman Avenue – working on new stairs, staining ramps, planting flowers, and other yard work.