The Power of one. An idea from one listener last week has led to a growing Veterans Day campaign to house homeless veterans, which, in one week has already expanded to 5 stations in three markets, Toledo, Indianapolis, and Detroit.

With over 37,000 homeless veterans on the streets of our nation, COVID-19 and winter for some veterans presents an even more dire life or death struggle. Many of these veterans are sleeping on nothing more than a piece of cardboard.

Dubbed “Cardboard 2 Headboard,” stations are working with Veterans Matter to move 4,000 more homeless veterans from sleeping on that piece of cardboard into a warm bed in a warm home of their own.

The Veterans Day campaign works to further that goal. In partnership with Veterans Matter, a national program that has housed over 4,000 homeless veterans, on Veterans Day, live shows at the participating stations will be raising donations and will recognize on air the donors and a veteran the donor would like to honor. The largest donor on Veterans Day will get either a 5-minute phone or Station Zoom interview.

“Denny Shaffer with WRQN in Toledo presented the Veterans Day idea from a listener to Veterans Matter, which led to K100, and WXKR in Toledo, as well as WFMS in Indy and WDRQ in Detroit being the first to enlist for the Veterans Day Campaign.” said Mike McVay, President of McVay Media Consulting who is shepherding the Veterans Matter campaign in radio. “This is radio at its best. With many veterans causes we all continue to support; radio is also standing up to remember the forgotten veterans on Veterans Day.”

As a result of the high interest, Veterans Matter has created a station branded “plug and play” integration which allows any station to participate in the Veterans Day Campaign. Components include a customized station “Cares” webpage (i.e. “WFMSCares”), auto donation notification, and a station branded automatic donation email acknowledgement from the station or talent. Traffic drivers will be links on the station’s website and social, as well as the station text line.

According to Lance Tidwell, Director of FM Programming for Cumulus Detroit, “At a time in our country where homeless veterans and their well-being has fallen off the front pages and not a part of the national narrative, it’s important for stations that can make a difference to do it for nation’s forgotten heroes.”

Boomer, the Cumulus Indianapolis Operations Manager agrees, “Far too many of our American heroes find themselves homeless, both here in Indianapolis and across our country. The work that Veterans Matter is doing with the #Cardboard2Headboard campaign to address this problem and provide vets with permanent housing solutions is truly remarkable. WFMS is proud to be a partner in this most worthy program to bring our veterans home for good. May God bless our vets and their families.”

Since first announced, the “Cardboard 2 Headboard Campaign” has garnered the participation of 400 plus

stations that are running campaign psa’s produced and donated by Benztown, a leading international radio imaging, production library, programming, podcasting, jingles and voiceover services company. The Benztown team has also produced custom spots for the Veterans Matter Veterans Day Cardboard 2Headboard Campaign available for free at their website.

“When we heard Ken Leslie’s story about how he founded Veterans Matter and the work they are doing we had to get involved. If our efforts could help just one vet go “from cardboard to headboard” it would be worth it,” said Dave Savage, Benztown’s Director of East Coast Commercial Production.

“They never quit fighting for us, we sure as hell are never going to quit fighting for them, and radio is leading our charge,” says Ken Leslie, the founder of Veterans Matter and formerly homeless himself. “It is inspiring to see how radio is uniting and asserting itself in their community to remind all Americans of the forgotten Veterans, every one of whom deserves a home for the brave in the land of the free. Homeless veterans are a cause that unites radio nationwide.” Stations from CUMULUS, iHeart and Intercom are all participating.

Veterans Matter is an innovative growing grass-roots program that partners nationwide with the Department Veteran Affairs HUD-VASH homeless veterans’ program to eliminate the last barriers preventing homeless veterans from crossing the threshold into ready and waiting housing. This partnership gives Veterans Matter a 100% success rate housing homeless veterans in long-term permanent housing with case-management that has a 91% success rate keeping them housed.

Stations wanting info about Veterans Matter and the Cardboard2Headboard campaign can visit VeteransMatter.org/radio. For information on the “plug and play” Veterans Day Campaign email Trish@veteransmatter.org