Just down the hall from the Rotary office in the War Memorial are the headquarters of Dryhootch, a veterans support organization that provides a substance-free social place for veterans, assistance with employment, housing and education, as well as peer mentoring and support groups.
Dryhootch has received two recent grants from the RCM Community Trust: $800 for general support in 2012, and a recent grant of $1,000 to facilitate the purchase of three computers for the National Avenue Dryhootch location.
George Whyte, the Military Service Support Committee's liaison to Dryhootch, said that after meeting with the executive director and touring a Dryhootch facility, “the committee felt that supporting Dryhootch fit very well with the Committee's mission. Accordingly, a contribution was made to assist Dryhootch in the important services it provides to veterans."
Dryhootch was founded in 2008 and began by selling coffee out of a tent at the “Reclaiming Our Heritage” military re-enactment event held on the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center grounds. The next year, Dryhootch received a Healthier Wisconsin Partnership Program Development grant from the Medical College of Wisconsin. Dryhootch purchased and converted a truck to serve as a mobile coffee and outreach platform at community events and began offering peer mentor training and programming.
Dryhootch opened its permanent coffee house on Brady Street in 2010 as a place for veterans to connect. The coffee shop model is based on Veteran Support Organizations from earlier generations, which were typically built around Posts with bars and taverns. Given the link between PTSD and alcoholism and drug addiction, Dryhootch saw a need for a supportive, social healing space that was alcohol-free. At Dryhootch, veterans can learn about programs available to them to aid in their transition home, while enjoying the support of those who have navigated the path home before them.
In 2012, Dryhootch opened their National Avenue location across from the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center. Dryhootch is currently remodeling the location and will host an open house at end of February.
“With many of our military coming home from our wars in the middle east, our services have been overwhelmed,” says Dryhootch executive director Bob Curry. “Note that only 7% of veterans are able to use services at the VA, and claims take an average of 600 days for a decision. So our Dryhootch location across from the VA has had to double its space to handle their needs and new programs. We’d like to thank the Milwaukee Rotary for their donation to enable us to provide computers for our veterans to file for claims, hunt for jobs, create resumes, and more.”