When I hear those words I immediately think of Dorothy and her red sequined shoes clicking her heels together three times and saying, "There's no place like home." Those of us who are blessed to have a home for the holidays often forget that while we are warm and sheltered, an American Veteran is living outside, under a bridge, or in the woods, hoping to survive.
Dramatic sounding I know, but unfortunately very true! In the past thirty days, United Military Care has received more calls from homeless Veterans than in the past six months combined. I get asked all the time why don't they (implying homeless veterans) just get a job. If it were only that easy. You need government issued documents in your possession to verify you are eligible to work in this country to apply and receive a job. Nine times out of ten, if you are homeless, you don't have those documents. What about an address for the application? A place to shower and clothes to wear? Transportation to and from work daily? These are only a few and don't even touch those with mental illness or addiction. Couple the factors above with a non-existent housing market (includes apartments, extended stay motels, mobile homes, condos, and homes) and the credit worthiness to obtain a lease. We aren't even talking about buying, we are talking about renting. Once you get into an extended stay motel, it is next to impossible to get out. The relaxed credit allows you to get in but rates are often 1.5-2 times that of monthly apartment rent. So now what?
Do Something! Whether you support Veterans through United Military Care (which we hope you do) or another worthwhile organization, just do something!
Here are a few things you can do to help Veterans in crisis:
Make a monetary donation online or mail a check,
Donate your time, volunteer,
Donate gently used blue jeans (men and women), new sweatshirts, sweatpants,
Donate pop top canned food (homeless don't usually have can openers),
Get your church, temple, or synagogue involved with a local charity,
Gather your neighbors and ask for a donation for entrance to a holiday gathering,
Teach your children to give by asking them to shop with you for those in need,
Watch sales ads for things charities ask for and let them and others know,
Ask your employer to match your charitable gifts,
the list goes on and on and on....
Remember when you crawl into bed or snuggle up on the couch after a long day, that a Veteran once served away from home and may have dreamed about the good ole' days back home, together we can give new meaning to "there's no place like home".
Thank you for your time!