Support Homeless Veterans This November!

Posted on September 27, 2011

On Sunday, November 13, 2011, the city of Norfolk will host the inaugural Freedom Half Marathon, and Virginia Supportive Housing will be one of the charity partners. This race, scheduled for Veteran’s Day weekend, is intended to raise awareness and enlist support from the public for the needs of veterans and their families.

On the surface, the connection between this event and the mission of Virginia Supportive Housing might not be immediately obvious. But, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, about 76,000 veterans (or about 1 out of every 8 homeless individuals) experience homelessness on any given night and many veterans are prone to chronic homelessness.

Under the best of circumstances, the transition from military duty back to civilian life is a difficult one, and our servicemen and women rarely have the luxury of returning under ideal circumstances. Returning veterans who have sustained disabling physical injuries, suffer with post-traumatic stress syndrome or other mental health conditions, or struggle with alcohol or substance abuse disorders (or typically face a complicated combination of these issues) are at very high risk of falling into homelessness. When the problems created by our failing economy are added into the mix, this transition has never been harder than it is right now.

The permanent supportive housing model that Virginia Supportive Housing offers is extremely well-suited to veterans who are struggling with multiple barriers to stability, and 16% of Virginia Supportive Housing’s client population are veterans (including one property in Richmond exclusively designated for veterans with disabilities). Most recently, Virginia Supportive Housing successfully housed an 88-year-old World War Two veteran, and many other stories featuring formerly homeless veterans have appeared in our past newsletters and blogs.

Let’s face it. No one deserves to be homeless. For people with chronic physical and medical conditions, this is even more true, and for veterans who have deliberately put themselves into harm’s way in order to defend our country, this is undeniably true. No one is more committed to this fact than VSH and no one has worked more consistently to end homelessness among those populations in our state that are at highest risk than VSH. So the connection between the Freedom Marathon, veteran homelessness, and VSH is not only logical, but absolutely critical to making real progress toward a permanent solution.

So how can you support VSH through this event?

First, you can register as a runner and be sure to include a donation to VSH in your registration fee.

Second, you can support a registered runner by pledging a certain amount per mile and fulfilling that pledge upon completion of the race.

Third, you can volunteer to support the event by contacting Esther Robert at [email protected]

Fourth, you can help spread the word about this event and encourage others to select VSH as a funding beneficiary.

Sure, thirteen miles is a long way to run. But for all of us at VSH, this event symbolizes the spirit of endurance embodied by our many formerly homeless veterans who struggle on a daily basis and against great odds to put their lives back together. The path to healing and recovery is also long, difficult, and excruciatingly lonely. With your help, our veterans will be reminded that, when it comes to the toughest battle of their lives, they are not alone.

Honoring The Dead, Remembering The Living

Posted on June 1, 2010

According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, about one out of every five individuals experiencing homelessness – or approximately 107,000 individuals – is a veteran.

Why do soldiers who have served our country wind up on the streets, and what can be done to prevent this from happening?

Reintegration into civilian life after military service is difficult under the best of circumstances. The shortage of affordable housing and jobs only makes things worse. Without sufficient family and social support networks, this transition can be overwhelming. And when other co-occurring factors such as disabilities, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, or incarceration are present, the result for many veterans is homelessness.

VSH client Sam Phillips* is one such veteran. Despite being a highly decorated paratrooper in Vietnam, Sam returned to the U.S. suffering from a variety of medical complications that led to drug abuse, lost jobs, and ultimately a three-month episode of homelessness.

According to NCHV, veterans who are struggling with multiple reintegration issues require a response that meets their needs for secure affordable housing, access to health care, mental health & substance abuse counseling, job training, and other services. In other words, they need the type of permanent supportive housing that Virginia Supportive Housing provides.

The VSH solution got Sam off the streets, and it can help other veterans as well. But we can’t do it without you.

This past weekend was about remembering those American men and women who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives in defense of our country. Honoring them is the right thing to do.  But while Memorial Day only happens once a year, our nation’s returning veterans need support year-round. Remembering them – and responding to their needs – is also the right thing to do. To learn more about the VSH solution, click here.

*not his real name

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