Supporting homeless veterans

By , August 10, 2010 9:35 pm

I looked up from the stoplight and stared at his eyes first.  They drooped, red and swollen, just as his clothes hung limp from a broken body.  He leaned on one crutch with a sign, “Disabled Vet.  Anything helps.”  The kids giggled in their car seats behind me and I thought, I’ve got to do something.  Searching my car, I looked past library books, a crumpled granola bar wrapper, and pocket change.  No cash, no food.  What could I do?  The light changed and I hesitated until Bubba said, “Go, Mom.  You gotta go.”  Accelerating past this empty man, I shook my head wondering how a veteran came to the point of begging at a street corner.

A few weeks passed and I couldn’t stop thinking about him.  It hadn’t been that long since outprocessing the Army and I knew there were support programs out there.  So I started researching.  I found these websites in the Denver area:

Veterans Helping Veterans- provides information and assistance to veterans and their families

Progressive Veterans- a not-for-profit organization that supports veterans and informs the community of veteran’s issues through outreach activities

Veteran Green Jobs- a non-profit organization the trains and equips veterans to restore the environment, economy, and community

As I perused the websites, I couldn’t help but think the programs were great, but… every week I see veterans, homeless veterans, holding signs, begging.  How could I tell these men and women about the support available for them in the amount of time it takes a stop light to turn green?  I felt helpless until I found this site for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  The VA has a goal to end veteran homelessness in the next five years.  Part of that program includes a call center for veterans that provides free 24/7 access to trained counselors.  So I printed this out on my computer:

I printed out a page of these, cut them out, and put them in the glove box of my car.  It’s not a lot but I wanted something I could give them for support.  I don’t know how that man’s path led to being homeless, but I know that anyone that’s served our country deserves all the help they can get.  Have any other ideas to support homeless veterans?  Please post your comments.

© 2010, FROM MILITARY TO MOM. All rights reserved.

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