Since 2010, the number of homeless veterans has been reduced by nearly 50%, largely due to the collaboration between the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Department of Labor (DOL) and the community- and faith-based homeless service providers that the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV) represents. The initiative to end homelessness among veterans in five years signaled a new era for the homeless veteran movement, which has been well underway for two decades.
There are limitless opportunities to improve and expand the services available to help homeless veterans, either as an individual or as a member of a group or organization. The most effective assistance is provided by community-based organizations that work within local networks offering a range of services from housing to continuing case management and counseling as the veteran proceeds through a detailed plan leading to self-sufficiency.
Focus your efforts on supporting the homeless veteran service providers in your community, or become an active advocate to make sure veterans receive an appropriate share of the resources that are available to address and prevent homelessness in your area. For a list of homeless veteran service providers in each state, click here.
- Support emergency shelters – Donate personal care items, clothing (new underwear, socks and T-shirts are always needed) and food, or make cash contributions.
- Volunteer as mentors, counselors or legal aides – Homeless veterans in transitional or supportive permanent housing often need help with learning basic life and social skills, employment training and placement, mental health or substance abuse counseling, and help with legal problems.
- Raise funds for programs – Contact churches, civic and business groups, schools, and veterans service organizations for contributions, or a share of proceeds from community events. Large corporations in your area may agree to an employee matching program. Involve the local media to ensure benefactors are recognized for their support of America’s veterans.
- Volunteer at Stand Down programs – These are two- to three-day events that give homeless veterans a secure, community-like retreat to receive healthcare and personal hygiene services, food, clothing, housing and employment referrals, and VA benefits counseling – all in one location. For a list of upcoming Stand Down programs, click here.
- Develop Homeless Veteran Burial Programs – Several programs have been developed over the last few years to ensure that homeless veterans receive proper burial with military honors. Programs are collaborative efforts involving local medical examiners, hospitals, VA regional offices and funeral services providers. For information on a successful national program, click here.
Send Us Your Successful Ideas
If you have successfully created a program to provide continual support to homeless veteran service providers in your area, NCHV would appreciate hearing about it. If it is a program that can be replicated, your idea could contribute greatly to the success of other programs that provide hope and restore the dignity of homeless veterans nationwide. Send information about your program to firstname.lastname@example.org, or by mail to NCHV, 333 ½ Pennsylvania Ave., SE, Washington, DC 20003-1148.