Philadelphia has nearly 80,000 residents living within its city limits, yet none are employed by the city's VA office, the Philadelphia Daily News reports.
Located on the first floor of City Hall, the Veterans Advisory Commission is reportedly the primary resource for Philly veterans. However, the office only has two full-time employees, neither of whom have any military experience.
According to the news source, a faith-based nonprofit called Pointman Soldiers Heart Ministry is advocating for the office to hire veteran employees in order to better help servicemembers returning from war.
"When they come back from situations of war and tragedy, they want someone to talk to who has had that experience," Ari Merretazon, the nonprofit's founder, told the news source.
Not everyone agrees that the lack of veteran employees is alienating servicemembers. VA employee Joyce McKeown told the news outlet that since the office's move last year to a more visible location, she has seen twice the number of veterans coming to her office.
Fellow VA employee Wanda Pate added that she is hesitant about having veterans with previous traumatic experiences working in the office, because they might not adapt to the office environment, the news source reports.
However, nearly three-quarters of the staff at the Philadelphia Veterans Multi-Service and Education Center in Old City are veterans, according to the news source. The nonprofit's chief of organizational development told the Philadelphia Daily News that having veterans in the office provides extra empathy when dealing with difficult situations.