Nelson founds Veterans Initiative Program to ease military transitions

MADISON – In founding her nonprofit, Veterans Initiative Program Inc. or VIP, Kesia Nelson intends to fulfill VIP’s slogan, “Giving our Veterans the ‘VIP’ treatment they deserve!”

A U.S. Air Force veteran, Nelson experienced the challenging transition from military to civilian life firsthand. During her military career, Nelson had the privilege of managing billion-dollar programs and was proud to help our country’s defense.

However, when no longer contributing in those ways, she lost a bit of her sense of purpose.

“Thankfully, I had a strong support system of family and friends to help me navigate the transition — to remain focused and motivated.” However, many veterans aren’t as fortunate. “I’ve had the privilege of walking alongside veteran friends; I’m aware of their challenges, too,” Nelson said as VIP CEO and Executive Director.

Various issues can cause unfortunate circumstances, eventually resulting in homelessness. “While that wasn’t my story, I recognize it could very easily have been,” Nelson said.

“It saddens me to my core to see how many people turn a blind eye – and worse, look down on others who have fallen on hard times. So, that’s how VIP was birthed – from the heart of an individual who believes in treating people the way I’d want to be treated,” Nelson said.

Citizens should, at least, take care of our heroes. Veterans have experienced traumas to which many can’t relate. Stress rises by knowing deployment could result in danger.

Meanwhile, life has continued for everyone back home, and the veteran is expected to fit into a ‘new normal.’ “Spouses learn to operate independently, children grow, families experience milestones, and workplace changes happen . . . Unfortunately, a veteran may have seen horrendous things that they can’t shake,” she said.

People should not judge a veteran’s misfortune. “At VIP, we instead focus on solutions and how we can help that veteran change his/her circumstance for better and help restore their purpose for, and passion in, life,” Nelson said.

VIP offers services and support to veterans who are homeless or at risk. Assistance includes emergency shelter, transportation and food, as possible. VIP is working to obtain necessary certifications to extend its time and reach with veterans.

To qualify, veterans who are experiencing hardship must have a DD-214 and have been acknowledged by the VA Homeless Program Office as a veteran in need.

Nelson feels confident for success because “I am a woman of faith. I am simply attempting to love my neighbor as myself as commanded.”

Nelson has a good day at work “when VIP has served our veteran community (with) shelter, transportation and/or essentials provision . . . or forming a relationship that allowed me to advocate on behalf of our veterans.”

In 2007, Nelson relocated with her job from San Antionio, Texas to Madison. She has lived longer in Madison than anywhere since she graduated from high school.

VIP’s mailing address is 7169 U.S. 72 W., Suite A, PMB 104, Madison, AL 35758. For more information, call 256-975-8339, email info@vetsin.org or visit vetsin.org.

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