What does Veterans Matter mean to those we serve? We housed our first veteran in Indiana on February 7th and got this email the same day:
I wanted to send you a quick note and thank you for your assistance today. The Veteran that I am working with is so excited that he will be moving into his own apartment in the next couple of days. He is an OEF/OIF Combat Veteran and has been homeless since returning from Iraq (over one year). He is married with a daughter and they have been what we call “couch surfing”, going from place to place and staying with anyone that will let them for a bit. The little girl is the cutest baby you have ever seen. She is about 8 months old and just starting to get around. It is awesome that she will have her very own home to learn to walk in.
I am the first Social worker in my department to utilize your organization to assist our Veterans since we learned about it a week or so ago. I have been telling everyone all day how amazingly easy it was to do the application and no one can believe that I have gotten the Veteran approved for his deposit money in just a couple of hours! This is unheard of and one of the biggest obstacles that we have to deal with in trying to get our Veteran’s housed.
I don’t know if you know this but it has been below 0 degrees for weeks here. This is not a good time to be a homeless person. Thank you so much for helping me help a Homeless Veteran and his family.
Healthcare for Homeless Veterans Outreach Social Worker
VA Northern IN HCS /Fort Wayne VAMC
This is why we are doing what we do.
As of last count there are now 57,219 unhoused veterans abandoned and forgotten on our nation’s streets. Streets where they have been beaten, robbed, even killed. Yet if this happened behind enemy lines, we, as Americans, would be outraged! Veterans Matter is the result of our outrage.
Veterans Matter is basically the outrage of a small group of people who are taking a one year sabbatical from our day jobs to accomplish one mission: To help communities get as many unhoused veterans as we can off the streets and into housing, as fast as we can.
Our mission is not creating a massive organization, it is more like we are called up from the reserves. We expect the VASH program to cease at the end of next year and intend to go back to our day jobs then. But for this year, Congress allocated another $75 million for the program, meaning another 10,000 vouchers will be issued. Of those we think we will be needed to help house at least 1000 of those veterans.
We designed Veterans Matter to support the HUD VASH program because we found a small hole locally preventing our heroes from crossing the threshold into READY, available housing.
It it cool for us how it evolved. We realized our local hole was actually a national hole and our unhoused veterans were falling through those holes.
We essentially went national after Dusty Hill of ZZ Top, who was helping us out with some PSA’s met some of the veterans we have housed. He was very moved and decided to go back to Houston and raise some money to help their local veterans. Because Dusty and his wonderful wife Charlene “Chuck” Hill got just as outraged as us, $70,000 was raised to date and 109 unhoused veterans are now housed, and Operation Houston has expanded to become Operation Texas.
Nationwide we are at about two hundred veterans housed in five states, with Washington State and Detroit coming online this month. We are finding the larger cities have some mufti-purpose funds available through the Supportive Services for Veteran Families, while the smaller cities and rural areas, like Fort Wayne, have urgent needs. We are looking for the places with the most critical need and then filling that hole.
The latest addition is the state pf Tennessee where Kix Brooks (Brooks and Dunn) is now taking the helm as Honorary Chair for Tennessee, so we suspect we will be online there this month as well.
On the even more great news front, we confirmed this week that the Veterans Matter Memorial Day campaign will be airing nationally in 110 markets. Stay tuned for the list of artists in each radio format.
This is just a really cool campaign of some people that just came out of the blue and said “Hell ya i want to help.” If you see ways you might be able to help, let us know.
Veterans Matter: We take care of our own!