Many of them sacrificed a life at home to serve their country. They left their loved ones behind, geared up, and headed into battle.
But returning home, these veterans have been stifled by a lack of affordable housing, limited post-service job opportunities, and inadequate mental health care. Tens of thousands of American military veterans are now homeless, struggling to find assistance for even basic essentials.
They deserve homes. They deserve safety. They deserve better than this.
Thanks to support from readers like you, we are teaming up with Veterans Affairs offices around the nation to help restore the dignity of these struggling veterans.
“Donations to the Homeless Programs goes to homeless and formerly homeless Veteran families who are now housed,” says Danna Auriana, Clinical Director of Homeless Programs for the Southern Arizona VA Health Care System. “The Veterans are dependent on community donations especially if they have no or low income to provide the household items and things they need to make their house a home or to be more comfortable while waiting to be housed.
The totes we have distributed to the Southern Arizona VA Health Care System contained over $200 worth of necessary household goods. This is funded by clicks on The Veterans Site Click-To-Give and shopping on The Veterans Site Store, where proceeds of every sale go to supporting veterans in need. The totes include items such as:
- Shower curtains
- Bed sheets
- Frying pans
- Kitchen tools
The vets have also been provided with “Good Packs,” which contain necessities for them and a furry friend. Each comfort backpack includes the following.
- For veterans:
- A hygiene kit including shampoo, soap, and toothbrush.
- A reusable water bottle.
- A t-shirt and socks to provide a clean change of clothing.
- A blanket for warmth and comfort.
- For pets:
- A 13oz can of Purina dog food
- A collapsible bowl to provide a clean place for the pet to eat or drink.
- A slip lead leash to ensure the pet remains safe with their veteran owner.
- A treat and a toy that provides the dog with comfort and happiness. This gift also helps to create an even stronger bond between the veteran and their pet.
These donations are being sent to two programs at the VA:
Health Care for Homeless Veterans (HCHV) Programs: A program designed to end involuntary homelessness among Veterans through outreach efforts and links to both the VA and community resources. Veterans in this program have access to an immediate assessment of needs, client-centered treatment planning, case management, and referral for a wide variety of VA and community based programs. They need only visit the HCHV clinic in Bldg. 90 to bee seen on a walk-in basis, and receive one of the “Good Packs.”
Housing and Urban Development Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH): Provides long-term case management, supportive services, permanent housing support for chronically homeless or vulnerable Veterans, and other housing assistance programs. Veterans can walk into the HCHV clinic in Bldg. 90 and ask to be assessed by a social worker. They will also receive one of the donated Totes and/or Good Packs.
“It warms their hearts to feel the love and support from their community and to know that they are appreciated for their service to our country and that others want to give back to them,” Auriana says.
As travel restrictions are still in place, Cody’s Friends, an affiliate of Rescue Bank is storing the Good Packs and supplies for the VA. The VA’s hospital and case management is still operating, but the ‘shop’ where they would otherwise distribute items is closed. These supplies will be stored at Cody’s, and Cody’s will drop off of needed supplies once a week. The case workers and hospital workers will then distribute the items to veterans at the VA.
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Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.