Lending a Helping Hand

Young Government Leaders (YGL) and GovLoop present the NextGen Public Service Awards for superior public service and achievement. The 5th Annual NextGen Public Service Awards will be given at the 2015 NextGen Award’s Ceremony, which will kick off the NextGen Training Summit on July 20th and 21st in Washington, DC. This year we have 30 finalists – the NextGen 30. Over the next month we will introduce you to our finalists through this blog series.



Meet the Finalist:

Who: Sy Williams, DUH-VASH Veterans Justice Outreach Clinician Department of Veteran’s Affair

Achievement: NextGen Public Service Finalist, Exemplary Leaders Category

Sy goes above and beyond to take care of our homeless veteran population. He’s a dedicated member of the Idaho Housing taskforce. As a participant of the Point in Time Count Homeless Stand Down, he has been able to procure cold weather clothing, gloves, sleeping bags, and other essential items for homeless veterans in Eastern Idaho. He works closely with the Veteran’s Service Officers, and the area veteran organizations to insure that all homeless veterans in our area receive the services they need. He’s currently working with the Bonneville County service Officers in Idaho Falls to establish a veteran court in their community. He is really making a difference in our area.” – Kenneth Collins, a colleague who nominated Williams.

Sy Williams is a wearer of many hats, as he describes himself, but to put his job in the simplest of terms: he helps the veterans of Idaho who are in need. “I work with homeless veterans in the area, so I do a lot of outreach in the community to try to find homeless veterans and work them into getting stable housing. I also work with the justice-involved veterans. So I go to jails and try to find veterans who’ve been incarcerated, talk to them about VA services and work on getting them into treatment programs.”

But Williams’ job is about more than just helping veterans. Williams does everything in his power to connect people to the resources necessary to get them back on track to bettering their lives.

Williams also works with the Veteran’s Treatment Court, a treatment program that fills in the gaps for veterans who don’t fit into the mental health court and DUI or drugs court. What he is working on specifically is setting up the mentors program. “There’s a real strong camaraderie between the veterans who are in the program. They’re allowed to communicate with each other and it’s setup to support veterans in their specific needs.”

The Treatment Courts also provides veterans with free legal clinics for service members who need to meet with an attorney to get legal advice.

“Eastern Idaho was having a problem getting assistance from homeless veterans in areas North of Bingham County line. The HUD vouchers went to the city of Pocatello and none were going to North of Idaho Falls and to the surrounding counties. The problem created by this situation made it extremely hard for our homeless veteran population to get the help they desperately need. Since Sy came to our area, he’s been able to get housing vouchers for homeless veterans and goes above and beyond to assist all of the homeless veterans of Eastern Idaho. He continues to address the boundary situation and continues to push the issues to get it correct,” said Collins.

One of the reasons Williams is so successful in helping the veterans of Idaho is his forward thinking and simple approach to success. “Look for ways to meet the requirements but also focus on the individuals and what they need. Sometimes things can get in the way of us being innovative and trying to come up with ways to get the job done and help the individual. Focus on the individual and work on changing things to be able to better meet those needs,” said Williams

He has worked with VA for a little over a year now. Prior to that he worked for the State of Idaho in the Behavioral Health programs with Children’s Mental Health and Adult Mental Health. Considering Williams’ background, saying he merely has a passion for helping people is probably an understatement.

“I’m a public servant because I enjoy helping people. I enjoy working to improve others’ lives.”

We will be talking to all the NextGen Public Service Award finalists in the upcoming weeks. See the full list here. Finally, register to attend the Awards Ceremony to get to know the NextGen 30 in-person!



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