If you’re in the northern half of the country, you may have enjoyed a milder start to winter this year compared to the last two years (who else got sick of hearing about the polar vortex?). But now it’s January and Mother Nature has decided to remind us what that means.

As I write this, it is 35 degrees in Atlanta, 27 in Washington, DC, and just 12 in Chicago. A major winter storm is expected this weekend for the Northeast. When we leave work or school tonight, we will bundle up and rush to our cars, then into our homes, to minimize the time we have to be out in the bitter cold.

We’ll spend the evening cooking dinner and watching Netflix – we’re lucky.

For the 47,725 homeless veterans and their families, the evening will go much differently: If they can’t find shelter, they’ll spend their night just trying to stay warm.winter in America morguefile

There are programs across the country geared specifically toward helping homeless veterans. Some collect supplies to help veterans survive the winter, and most put them in touch with the VA to make sure they’re getting housed, receiving care and other benefits.

But we have to do our part, too. The VA works with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) through the HUD-VASH program to find permanent housing for veterans and their families. Each year, vouchers are designated for veteran use to get them into secure housing – but the vouchers don’t cover deposits.

Through traditional means, it can take weeks or even months for a veteran to get help with that deposit. With temperatures below freezing, there just isn’t time for that.

That’s why we’re here. We don’t want to see any veteran – their spouse, their children – out in the cold tonight. Our mission is to help as many unhoused veterans as we can, as fast as we can.

This month alone we have housed 27 veterans who WERE on the streets, sleeping in their cars, or in the shelters. They are warm tonight because of you!

How can you help?

The biggest dilemma our veterans face tonight should be what to watch on TV, not where to find the warmest, driest place to sleep.