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.
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