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What Does It Mean to Love Our Veterans? hand holding heart with camo background and veteransmatter.org logo

I remember taking an aptitude test, administered by the U.S. military, my junior year of high school. It revealed I had a fair knack with mechanical things. This was not surprising as much as the new idea of a career in the armed forces. Despite my lack of firm occupational direction at that time, entering the Air Force (which is where I leaned during this brief notion) had not been on my list. Eventually, I dismissed the idea for myself – my issue with living a disciplined life was already evident in my need to lose weight before I could realistically apply to join.

Perhaps you, like me, entertained but never committed yourself to serving your country in the military. Perhaps, for various reasons, it was never even an option. Perhaps you are a veteran, or are actively serving. Together, we are Americans, each in our roles of working, serving, and enjoying our freedoms.

We know we owe these freedoms to generations of brave men and women. We’ve all pledged our allegiance to the same basic ideals. We recognize the ultimate sacrifices on Memorial Day, celebrate our shared independence on the Fourth of July, and say ‘thank you’ to veterans known and unknown, near and far, on Veterans Day.

We are outraged to hear of mismanagement that jeopardizes care for veterans. We are shocked by the soul-shattering statistic that 22 veterans a day – yes, a DAY – commit suicide. We can all agree that the words ‘homeless’ and ‘veteran’ don’t belong together, even less the fact that one in seven unhoused people are former service men or women.

But these are all reactions to problems which have existed for a while now, problems that will continue to exist until we all come together in more than just words and observances. The great news is a foundation has been laid to solve each one of these problems – changes in the VA to correct mismanagement from a new Secretary, the ‘Clay Hunt’ Act to stem the tide of veteran suicide, and an unprecedented concerted effort by the VA, HUD, and the Obama administration, along with communities across the nation, to virtually eliminate veteran homelessness.

Love is a Verb

It’s all happening NOW. Now is the moment to truly support our troops. The time for cards and care packages during war is dwindling; the time for creating a ‘home’ to come back to is overdue. Like my dad always told me, “Actions speak louder than words.” Or, if you prefer the way our founder Ken Leslie has put it, “Compassion without action is just a word.”

We know many folks are struggling themselves; it’s not always an option to give out of a nearly empty wallet. Trust us, our veterans understand hard times. Yet just like not all of us can (or did) serve in the military but all of us are capable of rallying to support those who can and did, we can still take any number of actions:

  • Contact elected officials to let you know you support their commitment to veterans on every level
  • Share facts with others about the issues facing veterans and encouraging them to do their part
  • Learn more about the solutions for these issues – and others – and advocate on behalf of veterans to push good solutions forward
  • Subscribe to our RSS feed and/or our email newsletter, and share what comes your way with those who might find it interesting
  • And, for those who are able, donate here – knowing that what you give gets veterans off the streets, out of shelters, and into a warm home… just the start of a new life for them!

Those are just a few ways that together, we as Americans, can take roles of bringing the change our veterans need. Let’s not just say we love our veterans, let’s actually love them back to health and home with our action-filled compassion!

 

For our site visitors who aren’t as social as we are – at least, not following us on Twitter or Facebook – here are some highlights from the past week on social media from Veterans Matter.

We…

…got excited about a much-needed transfusion of funds into Operation Michigan on Monday. (For those who don’t know how we operate, you can either donate to ‘Operation Greatest Need‘, which is any area where we have ready veterans waiting for housing but no monies to get them there, or you can donate directly to an established area of operation.)

…invited everyone (in the Toledo, OH, area) to join us this Thursday, February 19th, at Hollywood Casino for the #Dine419 Kickoff Party.

…gave some well-deserved respect to former U.S. Army Captian Jas Boothe for creating Final Salute, which has housed over 300 female veterans!

…created this little video in celebration of our third anniversary to animate the story of how we started our work.

…housed another 10 veterans/veteran families in the last week! Check our Veterans Housed to Date page for more details.

…revealed that we’re working on another PSA from our latest celebrity supporter, Toledo native political satirist P.J. O’Rourke.

 

For our site visitors who aren’t as social as we are – at least, not following us on Twitter or Facebook – here are some highlights from the past week on social media from Veterans Matter.

We…

…told you all the story of how Veterans Matter launched and began to spread beyond Toledo, Ohio.

…shared the President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2016, which will help reduce homelessness.

…were glad to hear and spread the news that the “Clay Hunt” Bill passed the Senate and is headed to the White House for signing. The bill seeks to improve mental health access and treatment for veterans in order to stem the tide of suicides. Currently, an average of 22 veterans take their own life every day.

…told you about Cathay Williams, the U.S.’s first African-American female soldier.

…knew housing the homeless saved money, but were pleasantly shocked to find out the Housing First approach saves communities THREE TIMES more than leaving them in shelters and on the streets. Three times!

…thanked our awesome sponsors for #Dine419. Seriously, these are some great folks!

…updated our social media friends on the latest Veterans Housed to Date info – now up to 529 veterans/veteran families!

…mourned the loss of Toledo’s ‘Prince of Compassion’, Mayor D. Michael Collins. Collins, a former Marine, fought hard on behalf of the unhoused community, whether veteran or not while a city council member, then implemented changes to ensure Toledo would regain its true spirit of compassion. He leaves behind many friends and a city grieving, but also a legacy that touched and taught many.

CollinsMattersMemorial_1000x523

 

CollinsMattersMemorial_1000x523

He took care of our own.

I cried yesterday, just as many across the city of Toledo – and beyond – cried because we lost a dear friend.

Not a friend, but a dear friend. That’s Mike. He had the ability to makes us feel like dear friends, didn’t he? We just knew he cared.

And he was a very dear friend to those in need. We all know for the past six years there has been turmoil in funding policy for the unhoused. One group felt we should close the shelters, and the other group felt the shelters needed to be there to act as landing pads for all citizens who fall through the cracks.

Mike Collins was one of the heroes who stood up for the unhoused, who stood up for the shelters, who fought – and I mean fought – to ensure all Toledoans had a place to go when times get desperately tight.

And he fought hard in standing up with Renee, Denise, Paula, Steve, Lindsay, Tom, and others on City Council to provide the funding for the shelters to continue operations. This is all public knowledge.

But it is the behind the scenes things he did that proved “Collins Cares”.

One day I got a call from Councilman Collins that the city had found a man camping in the woods in South Toledo. Mike wanted me to know so we can go out there and see if there was any way we could help him return to domestic economy.

On another day with another call, Mike alerted us that the city would need to bulldoze an area where one of our friends had been camping out. He wanted to give one week notice so we would be able to help the man relocate, hopefully to a shelter. When it became apparent we needed another week to be able to get that man mentally ready to go into St. Paul’s, he got us that other week.

There were other calls like that because, well, Collins Cares.

I told a friend after one of those calls that Mike was just a true Prince of Compassion. Most of the time when politicians call for help it’s usually for one of their family or friends. But with Mike all citizens, housed or unhoused, were his family and friends.

When we went to the White House last summer he told everyone we talked to about how special Toledo is in compassion. But I guess they already knew; that was why we were there.

If you distill politics to its essence, it is nothing more than a group of allies working to get another ally elected to execute policy to benefit business, the environment, personal gain, public welfare, or other agenda. To do so, politicians create promises and slogans conveying whatever messages are necessary to gain the three seconds needed for you to push the ballot lever next to their name.

With compassion as one of our strongest values and assets as a community, we knew “Collins Cares” was not a political slogan, it was just a statement of fact. And after he was elected he executed his policy of caring. Those who had chosen policy over compassion quietly resigned. Our community then returned to what it has always been: A compassionate community working together for all citizens, housed and unhoused.

He appointed a Director of Neighborhoods with an amazing ability to bring people together for the greater good.  All of the shelters and programs started working together without acrimony. Funding decisions are again being made based, not on favoritism, but rather a laser-like focus on what’s best for the people we are trying to serve.

Collins Cares.

I consoled a friend yesterday with the words, “Remember, the degree of pain for the loss equals the degree joy from the love. More love equals more pain. It is in the love that we all win.”

But imagining the degree of pain his family and closest of friends feel hurts even more. We lost a dear friend yesterday, but others lost a husband, a father, a grandpa, and best friend. We pray for their peace.

All of us lost a champion who fought for every one of us while he served in the Marines, on the beat, or in government.

I love you, D. Michael Collins. You taught me and our community so much. I loved fighting alongside you. I loved caring with you. Tonight someone is sleeping in a warm bed in a warm shelter that may have been closed and cold but not for YOUR power of compassion.

You will be remembered as a true Prince of Compassion. Thank you so much, Michael. Thank you.

 
Night rocket launch

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, CC license
http://www.flickr.com/photos/gsfc/16389062375

The Start of Veterans Matter

What does that mean, anyway – “0 to 35 in 11”? Actually, it means something pretty incredible. It describes the speed of real compassion for veterans, a commitment to making a difference that moves people to urgency, greasing bureaucratic wheels that normally respond slowly.

It’s the story behind the start of Veterans Matter, which didn’t exist on February 7th, 2012. That was when Shawn Dowling, the coordinator of the Ann Arbor VA Medical Center’s Health Care for Homeless Veterans program, told Ken Leslie about one of the most significant obstacles in the path of housing veterans: rental deposits.

Ken, who’d started Toledo’s Homeless Awareness Project, Tent City, over 20 years ago, and Shawn had already worked together. Not only did the VA have a special area for veterans at Tent City, the two had gone on street searches in Toledo and in Flint, Michigan, looking for homeless veterans. Both were experienced, dedicated, and passionate people when it came to advocating for those they were serving.

That is why, when Shawn related that she had 35 HUD-VASH vouchers and approved veterans waiting for to use them but her hands were tied to actually get them into housing, Ken was compelled to act. The fact that around $750 meant these veteran men, women, and families would stay homeless until enough funds loosened up here and there to scrape together a rental deposit outraged him. The problem was simple: not enough money. So the solution was simple: get the money supplied. But how?

Ken knew the head of the Advocacy Fund at ProMedica Health System in Toledo. The day after he learned of the issue from Shawn, he phoned Barb Petee and told her about it. Then he asked for enough funding to house the 35 veterans for whom Shawn had vouchers, to the tune of $26,250. That was the 8th of February.

For those who don’t know how the grant process works for nonprofits, there’s a good word to describe almost all of it: Slow. Grantmakers must review dozens of applications for a limited pot of money, performing due diligence and ensuring candidates fit within the vision of the granting organization and can be trusted to accomplish the goals they claim the grant will help them achieve. The process understandably takes months.

But when we’re talking about ending homelessness for individuals and families – not just a faceless group – we’re talking about life and death solutions for some, and, at the very least, a safe and stable base for rebuilding life for all. Ken understood this well, from having lived out of his car as a homeless comedian in the late 80’s. One night on the streets is one night too many, especially for the children involved. So a months-long process to get rental deposit money wasn’t going to work. Ken tried his best to underscore the urgency of the situation. Barb told Ken she’d see what she could do.

Waiting is not something Ken does well, particularly when there’s a solvable problem affecting people he cares about. Unfortunately, there are not many places to turn to get over $26,000 given to you, so while Barb worked on things on her end, Ken had to sit tight.

It may have seemed like forever to Ken, but it was only seven days later, on Valentine’s Day at 5:36 p.m., that Barb called Ken to say ProMedica would fast track the solution to this problem and grant 1Matters.org the money to house all 35 veterans. Three days later, the first veteran family was approved, and Ken cut the check directly to the landlord. That kind of speed is virtually unheard of, and speaks to the compassion and commitment of ProMedica to help its community.

The process between the VA social worker (VASH manager) referrals to 1Matters and the check sent to the landlord worked so quickly and so smoothly that it seemed ridiculous to keep this idea in-house. Soon enough, the 35 veterans would be housed and the grant from ProMedica used up. But there were more than 35 veterans out there to help. Ken’s wheels started turning. He called this new, budding program branch of 1Matters ‘Veterans Matter’.

Because of contacts in the entertainment industry, including a strong relationship formed with John Mellencamp and several people in his management group after John’s appearance at Tent City in 2007 (it was this appearance, in fact, that sparked the name 1Matters), Ken hoped to leverage their notoriety to get the job of housing homeless veterans done for as long as needed in Toledo. That’s how he came into contact with Dusty Hill of ZZ Top, a long-time supporter of veterans, who agreed to shoot a video PSA when the band passed through the area that summer. Dusty became so captivated by the mission that just a few months later he and his wife initiated the launch of Operation Houston (now Operation Texas), along with a few others committed to the cause.

From there, Veterans Matter picked up speed, garnering more celebrity supporters and more people and organizations in other areas interested in starting their own operations. Ken worked quickly to get a cloud-based, confidential referral software solution in place that would allow VASH managers to enter their referrals into a database and immediately send them to Veterans Matter for approval. This solution allows Veterans Matter to review, approve, send approval notifications, and cut checks directly to the landlords within just a few minutes. That initial sense of urgency has never let up, and continues to drive Ken and his small team (one part time staff person, and two contractors).

Now nearly three years later, Veterans Matter has housed over 525 veterans and veteran families, about 820 people in total, including 215 children. While we celebrate these numbers every day, we have our eyes on our 2015 goal: 1500 more.

Our mission is to house as many unhoused veterans as we can, as fast as we can, while preventing more from becoming unhoused. When Veterans Matter supplies the rental deposit for one veteran family, other funds from the community are kept available to prevent another veteran family from ending up on the streets.

Please join us. We have a limited-time window of opportunity to virtually end veteran homelessness as a nation. HUD and the VA have the vouchers and considerable political support for this effort. We ask that you help us do what’s right and serve the men and women who’ve served our country. Work with us to get more veterans housed. Donate today to celebrate our third anniversary. Donate in memory or in honor of a veteran. Donate because it’s the least we can give for those willing to give the most.

Thank you. Thank you for mattering to veterans.

 

For our site visitors who aren’t as social as we are – at least, not following us on Twitter or Facebook – here are some highlights from the past week on social media from Veterans Matter.

We…

…got very upset when we read this story about a homeless man having lighter fluid poured on him before being set on fire. When we say our veterans on the streets are being beaten, robbed and killed, we mean it. Violence against the unhoused isn’t legally seen as a hate crime, but happens more often than any crime that is classified as one.

…found out that VAntage Point, the VA’s blog, reposted our ‘500 milestone’ post from November just recently.

…cheered on Fairfax County, Virginia, which just committed to ending veteran homelessness this year. Virginia is part of Operation Mid-Atlantic, so we’re excited about the news!

…shared how important the Point-In-Time Count is for measuring the success of ending veteran homeless news with an article from the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans.

starsandstripes_jan302015_frontpage…were absolutely thrilled with the wonderful feature report in Stars & Stripes about the Veterans Matter program. We were on the front page!

…updated our social media friends on the latest Veterans Housed to Date info – now up to 528 veterans/veteran families + 79 spouses + 214 children = 819 people off the streets!

…drooled over all the restaurants participating in #Dine419. Seriously, check out this line-up!

…enjoyed spreading this story about a former Marine who’s traveling the country giving homeless folks and veterans free haircuts.

 

For our site visitors who aren’t as social as we are – at least, not following us on Twitter or Facebook – here are some highlights from the past week on social media from Veterans Matter.

We…

…honored the life and work of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by sharing this image and quote:
mlkflagquote_1000x523

…promoted one of our latest blog posts, How House Keys Unlock New Starts for Vets, which talks about the effectiveness of Housing First.

…celebrated #WomensDay (more commonly known as Wednesday) by recognizing the bravery of the female pilots of WWII. You can read about them in Yankee Doodle Gals by Amy Nathan. (Don’t forget to choose ‘1matters Org’ as your charity on Amazon Smile – any purchases you make there don’t cost your more, but they help support us!)

…thanked our sponsors and made a last call for more to support #Dine419, a week-long to benefit Veterans Matter by eating at local restaurants in Toledo. Initiated by Toledo Free Press, presented by Hollywood Casino, sponsored by Bottomline Ink and Toledo.com, and hosted at lots of great Toledo eateries!

…congratulated celebrity supporter John Mellencamp on the kick-off of his new tour.

…shared cool stories about formerly homeless veterans giving back to their brothers and sisters in need.

…posted the latest Veterans Housed to Date info – now up to 523 veterans/veteran families + 79 spouses + 213 children = 815 people off the streets!

 

“No strings attached, just, you know, ‘we want you off the street’ kind of housing, that’s great… Given my situation, where I’m able and want to work, that’s the kind of stuff that really helps out, because once you have a place to live, you can store your things, take a shower, cook your food, and you can start to live life like a regular human being again.” – Daniel Martin, 29, homeless veteran in San Diego, in a September 2014 ‘All Things Considered’ NPR broadcast.

Photo: Woodleywonderworks, CC license via flickr

Photo: Woodleywonderworks, CC license via flickr

Daniel’s comments are pretty close to the mark for advocates of the Housing First method of “solving” homelessness. The philosophy is centered on stabilizing the world of the homeless individual or family by getting them into their own apartment, then working with them through case management to address the issues that landed them on the street in the first place. It’s this method of social service that’s driving the VA’s success in reducing homelessness among veterans by at least 33% since 2010, when they, along with HUD, announced their goal to end veteran homelessness by the close of 2015.

67% in less than 12 months may seem like a long way to travel, but the push has been gaining momentum in the last year, especially after Michelle Obama joined the effort in June 2014 and introduced the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness, a follow-up to the VA’s 25 Cities Initiative, which launched in March 2014. Our founder, Ken Leslie, was in the room at the invitation of the White House when the First Lady made the call to action. You can read about his visit here. Since then, three large U.S. cities have announced success in ending chronic veteran homelessness: Phoenix, AZ; Salt Lake City, UT; New Orleans, LA. That’s two out of the originally listed 25 cities which have accomplished this goal in less than a year.

As for Veterans Mater, we have operations in five out of the 25 cities — Boston, Detroit, Houston, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. — as well as several other areas. Of the currently 518 veterans/veteran families for whom we’ve provided the final step that gets them over the threshold into their home, we only get to hear a tiny fraction of the stories of success, joy and new hope. We respect the confidentiality of the veterans we serve, so we rely on the VA’s social workers (VASH managers) to tell us about the life transformation that happens for these men, women and children when they finally have a place to call home. Every single story makes us cry.

There’s a common thread to these stories: relief, gratitude, happy shock, enthusiasm, hope. It becomes evident over and over again that a key to an apartment unlocks so much more than a door; it also unlocks our veterans from the stress of day-to-day survival, the rejection of society, the disappointment in programs that claim to help but don’t (or, at least not fast enough), and the hopelessness of being stuck in a rut. These brave but beleaguered souls, who have fought and sacrificed for our freedom, now come into a freedom of their own when they can settle into one place; one safe, warm, and permanent spot in which they belong. They are freed to then move into new places in their personal progress, with the help of professional case managers dedicated to ensuring their success. And it’s a high rate of success, too: 91% of the veterans housed this way maintain their housing. 

Veterans aren’t the only beneficiaries of the Housing First method of reducing homelessness. Extensive studies on Housing First show how this approach saves communities thousands of dollars per homeless participant since stable housing prevents strains on commonly-used infrastructures and services like jails, shelters, ambulance rides, police time, and emergency room visits. While the philosophy is a relatively recent adoption by governments and social services, the ideology behind it could realistically date back to 1943, when psychologist Abraham Maslow introduced his hierarchy of needs in Psychological Review. His “Theory of Human Motivation” detailed the levels of a pyramid-shaped graph of human development, showing how a person builds on different types of needs to move through individual growth. The most basic needs, what Maslow termed as ‘Physiological’, make up the bottom. These needs have to be met before a personal can most successfully move toward the pinnacle of the hierarchy: Self-Actualization, or the person’s full potential. So, what does a person need at the very outset? Food, water, air, clothing… and shelter. And the next levels builds from there, focused on personal, financial, and physical safety. Only a home can truly provide the shelter and safety an individual or family need to continue to move toward autonomy.

What illustrates the real success of this approach and our involvement in housing these veterans is one of those stories we mentioned:

“… [one] of the most recent referrals is a young man who had been living in his van for almost two years. He refused to go to shelters because he felt it would lead to a relapse in his recovery and wanted to maintain his independence. He moved into his house last week and showed it to me yesterday. The pride in his eyes and the excitement in his voice as he told me what his future plans were made it all worthwhile. He went from being frustrated, angry and hopeless to a man with a future again. You helped to make this possible. Thank you.”

— Miguel Ortega, VASH Manager

Want to help us meet our goal of housing 1500 veterans in 2015? You can donate here, as well as help us spread the word on social media. Follow us on Twitter or Facebook for frequent updates.

 

For our site visitors who aren’t as social as we are – at least, not following us on Twitter or Facebook – here are some highlights from the past week on social media from Veterans Matter.

We…

…celebrated our newest chapter, Operation Mid-Atlantic, housing its first veteran family, including 4 children.

…congratulated the City of New Orleans and its Mayor Mitch Landrieu for ending chronic homelessness among veterans there.

…posted a new video, recapping what we’ve been able to accomplish together.

…shared founder Ken Leslie’s urgent request to get more veteran families out of the cold.

…let our followers know about some cool veteran-related things we’ve found here and there.

…updated our friends on how many veterans/veteran families are now off the streets (518 veterans – 805 people, including 207 children!).

…wished a happy birthday to Kid Rock, one of our celebrity supporters.

…told folks about Toledo Free Press’s Dine419, happening in Feb. 23 – Mar. 1, which will benefit Veterans Matter.

 
Ken on a street "blitz" in Flint, MI, in 2012. These blitzes are searches with the VA to find homeless veterans and get them connected to resources.

Ken (far right) on a street “blitz” in Flint, MI, in 2012. These blitzes are searches with the VA to find homeless veterans and get them connected to resources.

I started Veterans Matter just to house 35 local unhoused veterans. It has now gone viral nationally because it works well, and works so fast. Over 500 veterans already housed nationally.

There are veterans waiting to get housed today! Let me repeat that: there are veterans waiting today, all they need is the deposit! They literally can be in a new home tonight!

Our target this year is to help 1500 veterans get housed. That is why we are moving as fast as we can, and need your help as fast as you can.

All donations right now have a 100% guarantee of not only moving a homeless veteran into long term permanent housing, but freeing up money that allows communities to prevent another veteran or veteran family from replacing them on the frozen streets.

Let me repeat that, too. You can prevent another veteran or veteran family from becoming homeless in the first place.

We are not perpetual fundraisers. We never raise more money than we need; once we have enough for an area of operation we close fundraising and move on to the next AO. This means each year we need to raise enough to match the new vouchers. Nearly ten thousand vouchers were released nationally this year and our goal is to house at least 1500. That means we need to raise a little over a million dollars.

For those who just asked, “Why we don’t help them all?” We will, if we have the money – money you can help provide right now.

NOTE: Is the sense of urgency coming through? That’s because I have been homeless. There is not upside; it sucks! Period. 25% of the people in those 500+ veterans and veteran families we have already housed are children. Pardon the language, but that lights my ass on fire. It’s cold out there and we have the ability to help more people get off the streets today.

Veterans Matter’s innovative partnership with the entertainment industry (20 celebrities and growing – list below), foundations, and the private sector are all working with HUD and the VA to house our ready veterans in literally minutes. Because we can, because we should.

You will truly be a hero to each and every man, woman and child in a veteran family that you give a warm bed in a warm home. Think about that. This is not a sales pitch, just facts.

Veterans Matter has a 100% success rate because the VA staff has already screened the veteran, found permanent housing meeting federal safety guidelines, and verified his/her ability to maintain their housing long-term with the VA’s continuing case management. All they need to cross the threshold into that warm home is the deposit, which we provide.

This is how it works: Once the VA staff has a veteran ready to be housed, they submit a referral to Veterans Matter. Using simplicity of design, technology, and execution, our cloud-based referral system allows all conforming deposit referrals to be immediately approved and confirmed with an email generated to the landlord directly. Because of the strong celebrity support from artists ranging from Katy Perry to Stevie Nicks, many landlords allow our confirmation email to serve as the actual deposit and house the veteran or veteran family immediately. We then mail the check to the landlord the same day.

Because your donations pay the deposit, it frees up money the social workers can then use to prevent another veteran or veteran family from becoming homeless.

Susan Sarandon, no stranger to campaigning on behalf of the homeless, joined the cause in September 2014.

Susan Sarandon, no stranger to campaigning on behalf of the homeless, joined the cause in September 2014.

We are talking about long-term housing in a VA program that has a 91% success rate in veterans and veteran families still housed a year later. Yes, the VA has huge issues on the medical side, but on homeless veterans side they have cracked the code.

.Our impressive roster of celebrity support has been instrumental in disseminating our message and mission. This partnership has over 20 supporting artists raising funds or getting the word out including Katy Perry, Susan Sarandon, Darius Rucker, Darryl Worley, Dusty Hill and ZZ Top, Willie Nelson, Emerson Drive, Heart, Ice-T, Jennifer Nettles (Sugarland), John Fogerty, John Mellencamp, Kid Rock, Kix Brooks (Brooks and Dunn), Mitch Albom, and Stevie Nicks. Each artist produced 30-second public service announcements, which are broadcast nationwide on the Cumulus Media Network annually during May and November, urging fans to “text the word VETS to 41444 to donate any amount on your credit card.”

Honestly, there are veterans and veteran families living in their cars and on the streets right now just waiting for that last piece you will provide: the deposit. That’s all that is stopping them.

We have created the ultimate program for homeless veterans because:

  • We can house them literally in minutes.
  • We have a 100% success rate housing them in a long–term program with a 91% success rate.
  • You know exactly what your donation does: Provide the deposit to house READY homeless veterans who are waiting today.
  • This also prevents others from becoming homeless.
  • Your money does not go to big salaries or overhead.

Veterans Matter is a program of 1Matters.org, a Toledo, OH-based 501(c)3 established in 2007 after singer John Mellencamp visited our annual Tent City/Stand Down event in 2007. John was so impressed he invited every Tent City guest to his show that evening and one came back after and said, “Ken, John talked to us from the stage, I guess I really do matter.” – and 1Matters was born. John has continued his paternity. Overhead costs for Veterans Matter are provided by the founder’s company and 1Matters, and program costs are running at an impressively low 17%-20% depending on revenue.  Feel free to compare that anywhere.  For more information you can just Google “homeless veterans matter” or visit VeteransMatter.org

If you are one who cares about our homeless veterans, PLEASE donate right now and then share this with your friends of like mind. We can do this, and we can do this right now.

This is your chance to give back to our heroes.

Here are our current Areas of Operation and how much we need to cover all vouchers for each area for this year and a link to donate to each:

We can open up other Areas of Operation with sufficient funding availability. Contact us for more info if you would like to chat about funding an area.

We have but one implacable standard for every single decision we make: What is best for the people we serve. Nothing else matters, politics, policy debates, critics or opinions. Fortunately homeless veterans are the one topic both sides of the aisle and most Americans fully support, as we should.

While you read this blog another veteran or veteran family is ready to be housed. Are you ready to house them? If so, click here or just text the word “Vets” to 41444 and then click through to make a donation of any amount on your credit card.

Please share this right now on your Facebook or twitter. We must take care of our own.

Onward – Homeward
Ken Leslie, Founder

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