There are 57,849 homeless veterans in the United States. That’s disgraceful.
But at least the number of homeless veterans is down by 24% since 2010, thanks to a federal initiative launched by the Obama Administration, and to the efforts of volunteer organizations like the Vet Hunters Project in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles has the highest number of homeless veterans in America. There are 6,291 homeless veterans in Los Angeles; almost double the number of homeless veterans in New York City (3,547), and almost five times the number of homeless veterans in San Diego (1,486).
The VA has set a goal of getting all of America’s homeless vets off the streets by 2015. That is an ambitious task, but volunteer groups of veterans, like the Vet Hunters Project, are out there on the streets every day doing their best to help homeless veterans.
Vet Hunters is a grass roots movement that was started two years ago in Los Angeles by one soldier, U.S. Army Reserves Sgt. Joe Leal, who vowed to honor his fallen comrades by serving the living, and by doing everything he could to leave no veteran behind.
Joe Leal is an Iraq combat veteran, who works at the U.S. Army Reserve Center in El Monte 13 miles east of Los Angeles, where he helps to re-integrate homecoming soldiers.
I believe that through our daily actions and events, it helps bring us closer to seeing a day where the word ‘homeless’ will never be followed by ‘veteran’.
The Vet Hunters Project dispenses teams of former servicemen and servicewomen to find -- and help -- homeless veterans
Like the Air Force Jolly Green Giant crews, who flew Search and Rescue Missions in Vietnam, the Vet Hunters run daily Search and Rescue Missions on the streets of America to locate and help homeless veterans.
The Vet Hunters Project isn’t a national organization yet, but it is spreading across the nation. Co-founder Army 1stSG Steve Kreider, another Iraq War veteran, brought Vet Hunters to the East Coast when he was transferred from California to a base in Connecticut.
This past June, the Vet Hunters held a bicycle trek across the country from California to Connecticut where the West Coast Vet Hunters linked up with the East Coast Vet Hunters. Then they all rode down to Washington DC to publicize the plight of homeless veterans.