Americanism in action for homeless veterans through Veterans Matter and the National Exchange Club

Anyone can wave a flag. Many do, then go back home. It takes a dedicated group to plant hundreds of flags to create a healing field. That’s Americanism in action. That same love of country and service will soon take healing into the realm of homelessness as hundreds of National Exchange Clubs (NEC) around the country join with their communities to raise funds to house homeless veterans. Each Exchange Club independently supports their community. But interdependently the 20,000 members in 650 clubs form a remarkably strong safety net for our unhoused veterans and veteran families nationwide. They call this “#Exchange Strong.” It is.

DID YOU KNOW? Veterans Matter has a 100% success rate housing homeless veterans in the VA’s LONG-TERM supportive housing program which has a 91% success rate keeping them housed!

Where will you be on 11/11 @ 7?

On Veterans Day at 7 p.m. the clubs will be hosting simultaneous “Veterans Matter 11/11 @ 7 Rally to House America’s Homeless Veterans” at Exchange Clubs in hundreds of cities and towns nationwide!

Independently, on average, each club will work to house three unhoused veterans living on the streets and in the shelter. Interdependently, that’s 2000 veterans housed. They call that “#Exchange Strong.” To each and every one of the veterans and veteran families getting pillows under their heads, they certainly are.

These Exchange Clubs will be hosting Veterans Matter rallies to raise the funds necessary to house these 2000 veterans in their community, region, and nation. Veterans Matter has a 100% success rate housing homeless veterans in the VA’s LONG-TERM supportive housing program which has a 91% success rate keeping them housed! (Yes, you read that right: a government program with a success rate of over 90%! Hooray HUD and the VA!)

The Exchange Clubs will utilize the Veterans Matter fundraising platform for raising funds, allowing both Exchange Clubs and their Exchangites – the NEC name for club members – to get their communities to come together for the nearly 50,000 homeless veterans in the U.S. With a national average of $750 to house a veteran/veteran family and a goal of housing 2,000 veterans, we are aiming to raise $1.5M. The campaign kicks off with rallies and walks in communites around the nation at 7pm on 11/11, Veteran’s Day.

That $750 per family is the rental deposit most homeless veterans don’t have in order to take advantage of the HUD-VASH vouchers made available in the government’s current winning push to end veteran homelessness. That’s right; there are veterans on the streets tonight who don’t have to be, they have found a home and all they need is the deposit. To date, Veterans Matter has housed over 650 veterans in Colorado, D.C., Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, Texas, and Washington. Along with many of those veterans come their spouses and dependents, meaning we have moved nearly 1,000 people off our nation’s streets and out of its shelters. Not bad for Veterans Matter’s small group of regular Americans!

Defining Americanism

Americanism is term used specifically by NEC to describe service that promotes “pride in country, respect for the flag and appreciation of Americans’ freedoms”. Their partnership with Veterans Matter is the perfect expression of Americanism and new-but-familiar way for Exchange Clubs to engage with their communities to make an impact to veteran lives across the U.S.

While the news is spreading among the National Exchange Clubs and Veterans Matter’s network of supporters, the approximately 100-day countdown won’t officially kick off until August 1 at the NEC’s National Convention in Columbus, Ohio. Veterans Matter’s founder Ken Leslie will both address the attendees at their One Nation Under God Luncheon as well as lead a session on using the campaign to raise Awareness in their community. Veterans Matter will also be present with T-shirts and pins for sale that will help Exchangites spread the word.

Veterans Matter is working on a collection of tools for Exchange Clubs to use in their efforts, including press releases, sponsorship letters, social media components, event flyers, and other similar materials. In addition to this, Veterans Matter is now having a weekly conference call/webinar every Monday at noon EST for anyone seeking more information about the Veterans Matter program or rallies. Contact Veterans Matter if you would like to join us.

What is NEC?

“America’s Service Club” was founded in 1911 in Detroit, Michigan, by Charles A. Berkey. Within two years, the group dedicated to exchanging “ideas and information with like-minded individuals about how to better serve their communities” had spread to Toledo, Ohio, where the NEC’s headquarters are now located. (In fact it is a few hundred yards from the Veterans Matter office.) Dedicated to serving their communities, Clubs are organized around three main “Programs of Service”: Americanism, Youth Programs, and Community Service. Child Abuse Prevention is the NEC’s National Project. Within those realms, Exchange Clubs make a strong impact through a variety of specific initiatives at local and national levels. Membership has its benefits, and once they found out all the the Clubs do, our organization has been proud to have three of our team members join local Exchange Clubs Join us! Stronger clubs equal more veterans housed!

Veterans Matter loves the National Exchange Club’s spirit of patriotism, and is excited about this new partnership to see Americanism in action in the lives of our veterans living on our streets and in our shelters. Together, we’ll make sure we take care of our own!