In the past, I’ve written about the increase in homeless veterans in the aftermath of more than a decade of war in the Middle East. The challenges our returning veterans face is overwhelming. Many return carrying the physical and psychological wounds of a brutal war which has affected a generation of our young people. As they transition back to civilian life, difficulty finding employment and lack of affordable housing force some veterans to become homeless.
On average, a homeless vet will spend six years living on the streets.
My son is on active duty and his wife is a veteran. In the short period our daughter-in-law has resided in Los Angeles, she has met several homeless veterans who work tirelessly for the homeless and homeless vets in their area. Meals are provided in downtown LA for homeless vets, and one of the organizers, Coach Ron, is a homeless vet. Others help with counseling veterans suffering from PTSD and “Survivor’s Guilt” depression.
In Los Angeles and several other communities across the nation, numerous groups are exploring unique options to provide housing for the homeless. The Veterans Community Project in Kansas City built 50 Tiny Houses for homeless vets. High school students in Racine, WI are giving up their lunch hours at school to help build 15 tiny homes for Racine’s Veteran Village Project.
In Penn Hills, PA on the outskirts of Pittsburgh, another veteran’s community will break ground in 2017. A 39-unit complex in Carson City, NV has been completed for homeless vets and their families. It will not be a shelter, but transitional apartments with supportive services including mental health and job training.
The website “Operation We Are Here” contains a directory of homeless accommodations for veterans and offers links to programs for anyone who would like to volunteer to support veterans and military families who are homeless or in danger of becoming homeless.
Veterans of America raise funds to provide Tiny homes for vets. Veterans Matter is another group whose “Operation Greatest Need” helps to raise money to build homes for homeless vets and their families. As little as $5/day can help their cause. The group works with HUD and the VA. Another group, Wounded Warrior Homes provides transitional housing for homeless vets. They ask this question on their website–“Why on any given night are there over 50,000 homeless veterans on our streets?” An eye-opening statistic and an urgent question which needs answers and solutions.
The above programs are in addition to those programs offered through the Veteran’s Administration. Each of us can help homeless vets and their families through the various organizations, local efforts, church groups, etc. There are over 300 million US citizens–a mighty force of individuals who have the power to make change happen. This is a problem our nation can solve, but only if people will get involved.
Contact one of the groups I’ve mentioned, donate to charities like EMMAUS who help the homeless around the globe, or start a grassroots organization in your own communities. There are resources available online and through the Veteran’s Administration websites to help you get started.
Tonight, fifty-thousand of our military veterans will be sleeping outside. They swore an oath to protect us…it’s time for us to protect them.
OMP Admin Note: Kate McGinn is a writer and OMP Network member – one of a group of networkers who will be blogging on a regular basis on various causes and issues. Kate hopes to spread awareness of the issue of American Veterans returning home to less help than they deserve. EMMAUS is one of the two main charities we are supporting.
Kate McGinn’s fiction can be found on Amazon in the flash fiction series BITE SIZE STORIES (Volume Two) along with five other guest writers. Her full-length book EXODUS is also available on Amazon.