November is a month of both remembrance and gratitude. Here in the United States we have Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving, but how often have you thought about them in the same context? What I mean is, how often have you thought about the veterans and what they will do for/at Thanksgiving?
“Although flawless counts are impossible to come by – the transient nature of homeless populations presents a major difficulty – the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates that 49,933 veterans are homeless on any given night.” ~ National Coalition for Homeless Veterans
Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks for what we have in our lives. It’s also a time to give back to those who are less fortunate. It can be an opportunity to “serve those who serve/have served us” and there are plenty of vets who need the help. So here’s what you can do to help, if you’re so inclined:
- Determine the need in your community. Visit with homeless veteran service providers. Contact your mayor’s office for a list of providers, or search the NCHV database.
- Involve others. If you are not already part of an organization, align yourself with a few other people who are interested in attacking this issue.
- Participate in local homeless coalitions. Chances are, there is one in your community. If not, this could be the time to bring people together around this critical need.
- Make a donation to your local homeless veteran service provider.
- Check for places in your area that will be offering Thanksgiving dinner for homeless vets. This is one example. Check local churches, food banks, the Salvation Army or soup kitchens who might need donations of food or money or who could use volunteers on that day (or any other day, for that matter).
- Offer to drive a veteran to an event. The DAV has a program to make this easy for anyone wanting to help. Simply click the link at the beginning of this sentence and see for yourself.
Keep veterans off the streets
“In times of war, exhausted combat units were removed from the battlefield to “stand down” in a place of relative security to rest. The Department of Veterans Affairs’ Stand Down program is designed to help homeless veterans “combat” life on the streets. Stand Downs are usually one- to three-day events to provide food, shelter, clothing and health screenings to homeless and unemployed veterans. To find a Stand Down program in your community, contact your local VA hospital in the VA Medical Center Directory.
A phone call can also make difference in the life of a veteran who is homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Call 877-4AID-VET, or 877-424-3838, to be connected 24 hours a day, seven days a week with help at the VA. The VA has set a goal of eliminating homelessness among veterans by 2015.” ~ from CNN.com
- Here are some more sites to give you some extra ideas: