American soldiers serve their country in some of the most horrible situations imaginable. Although the standard two year enlistment is the normal time commitment, patriotic soldiers have been known to reenlist for up to 20 years. Unfortunately, many who served are homeless today.
The District of Columbia is doing something about the problem. "Last August, a team of D.C., federal, and community agencies convened to take on a short-term challenge to house homeless veterans in the District. In just the first 100 days, the team was able to house 207 District veterans, 96 of whom were chronically homeless. I am committed to leveraging federal funding and dedicating the local dollars necessary to support this effort. By the end of next year, we will end chronic homelessness for the District’s veterans," said Mayor Vincent Gray.
The years of service in the American armed forces is among the most difficult experiences that many of these men and women will ever undertake. Moreover, the scars from war are permanent and will remain with the soldiers for the rest of their lives. These are the facts of service.
Cheryl Irwin, the former spokesperson for the Department of Defense, was a great source of information about life in the military. Her emails and updates kept this journalist up to date and aware of issues that had impact on the lives of soldiers. She is greatly missed.
Linda Clark Holland of the U.S. Veterans Initiative has now become a source of information about the plight of homeless veterans. The stories she has told about the sad truths concerning men and women who put their lives on the line for their country and now find themselves homeless and living on the street is a truth that brings shame to the greatest nation on the face of the Earth.
There is no greater service than to lay down a human life in defense of a nation; yet these brave men and women; and note, due to no fault of their own, find themselves homeless, jobless, and hungry. It should not be; nevertheless, it is the truth. Programs like U.S. Veterans Initiative need support to fight a massive problem.
Holland provided documentation to support that in the city of Washington 499 American veterans were homeless on a single night. The District spends over 127 million to help all the the homeless residents of the city. A homeless woman was picked up and taken to a shelter by the city on March 18, 2014. She had been standing in the cold before the city came to her aid. "I am going to a shelter," she said.
“But we need to do more – and not by throwing more money at the problem. The money is there. I have devoted much of my career to helping people who are homeless. I know more than most how complicated these issues are,” Gray said.
Coalitions of nine government and non-profit agencies have been working with the federal government toward a goal of ending veteran homelessness in the District of Columbia by 2015.
“Through informal outreach, a number of landlords have already stepped up to the plate to offer blocks of apartments. For example Tembile Roxo with NOVO Development has offered the use of 20 apartments, and Melissa Steele at E&G Group has offered 48! I want to thank them and others for doing your part to help. If you know of units that you could contribute to the campaign, I ask you to let us know by e-mailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org,” Gray said.
Although the city must focus its efforts on helping all homeless residents, the effort to help homeless veterans is a major part of the plan that is being implemented by the city.
Examiner.com will follow this story until the end of veteran homelessness in the District of Columbia in 2015. Stay tuned.