This past weekend, I came across a startling article about the homeless veteran population. Christy Respress, the Executive Director of Pathways to Housing DC, shared that “across the country, men and women who served in the armed forces are becoming homeless at a rate that is higher than the civilian population.” She goes on to explain the combined efforts of a new partnership between Pathways and Miriam’s Kitchen to help long-term homeless veterans and those with mental illness or medical conditions move to a sustainable housing with an ongoing support network. So far, this new effort has been incredibly successful: with a goal of permanent housing for 50 veterans by the end of November, 38 have enrolled in program and 12 have been successfully placed.
It was encouraging to read about the efforts of Pathways, but I was prompted to search for other nationwide initiatives to assist our veterans. The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans provides a network of resources, including food, shelter, health services, job placement and legal aid, for homeless veterans. Disabled American Veterans has a homeless initiative that provides the links to government aid at a local and national level. Operation Stand Down provides social services to homeless veterans in states such at Tennessee, Rhode Island, and Alabama. Volunteers of America has an extensive reintegration program as well as housing services, employment and training.
So how can we help? How can we serve those who serve us on this national day to honor veterans? Here are some great ideas:
- On November 12 (Veterans Day 2012) Shoebuy.com will donate $1 to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans for every sale through it’s website today, up to $5, 000, in addition to offering 15% off every order!
- Send a card or thank you letter through A Million Thanks – a year round campaign to show appreciation to our military men and women.
- Volunteer your time or donate items of comfort to your local VA Medical Center. Locally, there is one in Durham seeking air mattresses, pillows, towel sets, gift cards, batteries and more.
- The USO has launched Grant a Wish for Our Heros in which we can support veterans through many retail partners such as Old Navy, American Airlines, CVS and Cheerios. In addition, folks can grant wishes such as books and care packages to military personnel.
- Soldier’s Angels has some unique ways to support military families and veterans – Adopt-A-Family for Christmas or join Operation Veteran Outreach to help heros with challenges on the homefront
- Hire Heros USA focuses on helping veterans build their skills and self-marketing as well as networking services. If you’re in the hiring business, check out their job posting boards!
Let’s show our appreciation, honor and support of our brave men and women to selflessly give their lives for our country. Join me in helping to serve those who serve us!
P.S. If you are a veteran or military personnel, check out these free meals and discounts at retailers nationwide over the next few days: patch.com/2012-veterans-day-free-meals-discounts