No American, Young or Old, Should Be Forgotten
Independence Day provides an opportunity every year to honor those serving in the military and reflect upon the sacrifices made to defend our country and its freedoms. While our thoughts naturally go to those currently serving, we shouldn’t forget to think about those who returned home and fell on hard times.
Every night, thousands of veterans are homeless in cities across the United States. It’s a national tragedy that those who served our country are now left forgotten and on the streets. Since World War II, Volunteers of America has been a leader in providing services to veterans in need. Today, we are one of the largest providers of assistance to homeless vets, serving approximately 40,000 of these men and women each year. We pride ourselves not only on getting these folks off the streets, but also treating the underlying causes of their homelessness so they can live successful and independent lives over the long term. We’re also proud to work with a number of partners on this important mission, including a close relationship with the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs and corporate funders such as The Home Depot Foundation and HSBC.
One fast-growing area of veteran-centered service focuses on “moral injury.” The VA defines moral injury as “a syndrome of shame, self-handicapping, anger and demoralization” resulting from experiences that challenge “deeply held beliefs and expectations about moral and ethical conduct.” By reducing isolation and establishing trusted relationships among veterans, our new moral injury programing will help participants sustain long-term recovery, reintegrate more successfully into civilian life, and better-avoid the life crises that can lead to homelessness, among other ills.
But it’s not just homeless veterans who need our help. Children are another group who are disproportionately affected by homelessness. Summer is the time of year that many Volunteers of America affiliates are collecting school supplies for annual Operation Backpack campaigns. These campaigns ensure that all children, even those who are homeless, have the supplies they need to start school in the fall.
I hope you’ll join me on our mission to ensure that no American, young or old, is forgotten and relegated to living life on the streets. To learn more about Volunteers of America’s services for the homeless, including veterans and their families, please visit www.voa.org/homeless-people.