How the M.A.S.H. Program is Honoring Our Veterans, Part 2

Last Updated by Kate Spears on

The conversation continues this week on WCTE’s Get Ready To Learn radio show as host Cindy Putman and co-host Carla Mohammad Lawson discuss the programs that are in place to help our nation’s heroes - men and women who have served our country - and the impact that homelessness has on them. Carla is the SSVF Outreach Coordinator for Mission Accomplished: Stable Housing (the acronym for this program is MASH) through Volunteer Behavioral Health. Carla has been working with a group of individuals in Cookeville, Tennessee to replicate a program that the city of Chattanooga successfully implemented to re-house veterans who are homeless.

Issues of Homelessness Among Veterans

Did you know an estimated 30 to 35 veterans are currently homeless in the Upper Cumberland region (according to the most recent stats)? According to Carla Lawson, MASH outreach coordinator, last year they served 200 veteran families across 26 counties in Tennessee. They have also housed over 600 since the program began.

The key reason much of the veteran population deals with homelessness is because of the lack of affordable housing. When a veteran enters the rapid re-housing program, they are provded with a range of services that help them in all areas of their life.

No matter why a veteran in our area might be facing homelessness, Carla’s M.A.S.H. program makes sure that the homeless vets are able to get off the streets. And the program doesn’t just address the point of homelessness. In fact, rapid rehousing offers a 90-day case management study during the time the vet is helped which includes a job program, counseling, disability services, and any other help he or she might need to be successful.

To learn more about how veterans can participate in the M.A.S.H. program, visit part one of our blog on this subject.

There are other programs helping veterans, including the Tiny Homes for Veterans program, known as Community for Heroes. These efforts are led by a gentleman named Josh Pack.

Pack is himself a veteran who ended up with PTSD after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Ending up homeless was never part of his plan, but it happened anyway. After moving into a tiny house that he and his dad built, he got his great idea.

Pack’s plan is to house homeless veterans in their own tiny house community in Cookeville and that plan is gaining fans all over the Upper Cumberland. He says he realized living in a tiny house and having those veterans around him and those friends that he made just made sense. Read more about Josh Pack’s tiny house community plans here.

Having a community goes a long way in improving life for veterans. Depression is another issue that affects many veterans. Statistics show that each day, approximately 22 veterans commit suicide. There is a program in place called #Mission 22 that supports efforts to end veteran suicide. Mission 22 has three major programs, which include funding treatment for Post Traumatic Stress, Traumatic Brain Injury and other issues they may be facing, large scale public art to honor veterans and creating social impact for the issues veterans are facing today,

There are memorials dedicated to the fallen warriors of nearly every major conflict in our country’s history. They remind us of the sacrifice, they honor those we’ve lost, and they tie civilian to soldier. But there is no national monument for those who have fallen in the war against Veteran suicide.

Putman and Lawson encourage anyone and everyone to reach out for help, and don’t suffer in silence.

Homelessness and Its Effects on Veteran Families

Carla discussed how important it is for families to have stable housing, which is something we have touched on many times on the WCTE education blog. Often times children become homeless when their parent(s) becomes homeless. Homelessness isn’t the only issue, but also the side effects of it. Some children of veterans move so often that they may end up changing schools up to three times during a given academic year. When we lose our housing, our entire environment changes substantially. Our routines are disrupted and normal rules of survival change.

We also know that lack of stable housing is associated with issues such as poor job retention, poor school attendance and poor academic performance. There’s also a connection to increased use of alcohol and substances as well as possible decreased health and immune issues.

The goal of the M.A.S.H. program is to fix the housing issue first and then create a stable base for individuals to tackle other life issues. When order and routine is restored in a person’s life, living in a constant state of high stress is no longer the norm. This only serves to help create positive long-term health effects.

By restoring housing, people are able to restore balance and may then have the option of focusing on other important life goals.

Resources for Veterans & Their Families

To learn more about the Community for Heroes project, click here.

To find out more about resources through the State of Tennessee, click here.

For more information about the M.A.S.H. program, contact Carla at (423) 326-7857 or via email at

If you know someone who is a homeless vet or perhaps even you yourself are a veteran facing homelessness, please reach out for help. Carla and her staff also have a first-time appointment line and a crisis line for adult clients.

First Time Appointment Line: 1-877-567-6051

Crisis Line: 1-800-704-2651


Tune in each Saturday morning at 9:30 for the WCTE Get Ready To Learn Radio Show, with host Cindy Putman on Zimmer Broadcasting's The HUB 107.7 FM and 1400 AM. 


"Cyberchase Step It Up Minute”

Across Putnam County, students in the LEAPs/21st program are walking, using their pedometer to track their steps daily. Each day the kids and teachers log their steps and the students are encouraged to increase their step the next day. Check out Cyberchase on WCTE, weekdays at 3:30 p.m. and spend some time this spring walking with your children at a local park! Walking is great exercise and it is absolutely free! 

Cookeville residents are going to love this brand new map showcasing some of our city's parks, created by local artist and WCTE friend Matt Knieling. We've gotten to know Matt because he also works at the Putnam County Library, a great WCTE partner! 

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WCTE’s Educational Team can customize workshops or professional development trainings for your group or organization. For workshop information, or to inquire about scheduling a workshop, call 921-528-2222 x. 227 or email us.

Topics are listed below:

  • Using Media as a learning tool
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