Pennsylvania has the fourth-largest population of veterans in the United States, and many struggle to get back on their feet following their years in the service.

Tuesday afternoon, state Representative Ryan Bizzarro announced that $12,000 would be coming back to Erie County to support those very veterans. Veterans have done so much to protect us here in the U.S., and state Rep. Bizzarro said any funds to support those who have served will go a long way.

A total of $10,000 will go towards the Warriors to Washington program and another $2,000 will support the Veterans Court program with the Erie County Veterans Affairs.

Warriors to Washington is an Erie-based nonprofit that provides therapeutic trip opportunities to Washington D.C. for our local vets. The Veterans Court program provides relief and support to veterans charged with non-violent crimes and other issues relating to substance use and mental illness.

Rep. Bizzarro believes that not enough is done to help veterans re-adjust to civilian life and hopes that this grant will help them to move forward after serving.

“Of course, when people come back from the service, I don’t believe that they’re properly integrated enough, a thorough integration, back into civilian life. Consequently, you see problems with addiction, petty crimes happening, and that’s why we’ve established the Veterans Treatment Courts,” said Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, chairman, House Democratic Policy Committee. “Any money that we could put towards ensuring that these veterans are successful and don’t end up back in the system is a dollar well spent.”

Rep. Bizzarro added that he’s grateful for the sacrifice of those in active duty, especially during the holiday season, but we need to continue supporting them when they return home.