Helping Veterans #7

For the Veteran... By a Veteran

They don't tell you everything, which is where "For the Veteran... By a Veteran" comes in. SSG Mike Mills (retired) has lived the trauma of war and injury, depression and guilt, but is on the path to recovery and has set up an organization to help other vets like him do the same.

If you are looking for assistance or a way to help those that do please check them out.
"I broke my foot, my hip, I actually shattered my hip and I broke my shoulder," Mills said. "Along with the burns, I lost a pinky on the left hand, my thumb on my left hand, part of my nose, but my nose has been rebuilt."

After the explosion, Mills blamed himself for his injuries. He hated himself. But he quickly got over those negative feelings with his family's support and help from his psychiatrist.

To help other soldiers do the same, he has started For the Veteran, By A Veteran.

excerpt from: Minnesota Public Radio online news


Helping Veterans #6

PBS and Bill Moyers offer a list of government and non-government resources for veterans as well as a look at how combat changes a person's life.


VA Aims To Curb Homelessness

From the Washington Post:

The Department of Veterans Affairs laid out Tuesday an ambitious five-year goal of curbing the number of homeless veterans, pledging $3.2 billion to an issue that is more rapidly affecting those who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars than by any from past conflicts.

"No one who has served this nation as veterans should ever be living on the streets," VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki said.

"In the past, VA focused largely on getting homeless veterans off the streets," Shinseki said. "This plan is different. It aims as much, if not more, on preventing as it does on rescuing those who live on the streets."



Pour will be showing at the Anchorage International Film Festival which runs from December 4 - 11, 2009.


Helping Homeless Vets in Philadelphia

From Gathering of Eagles:

Our short range goal is to find as many vets as we can and get them off the street, but we fully intend to develop this into a national program once we work the bugs out here in Philadelphia. If anyone is available on Thursdays from 1100-1300hrs and wants to help please contact us and we’ll get you into the mix. If anyone has other availability we can always use volunteers on site to sort clothes, assist with paperwork, etc.

Unfortunately they don't have any contact info or directions for those interested in volunteering. Will update if I can get any info.


NOT Helping Veterans #1

This is disgusting:

Taylor residents oppose proposed women veterans center in their neighborhood

October 11, 2009, Taylor, Texas (Austin American-Statesman)— A California company wants to convert an empty facility formerly used as nursing home into a trauma assistance center for as many as 88 female veterans, including those who have been sexually assaulted by fellow soldiers.

But some Taylor residents say they don't want the facility in their town.

"It would put veterans in a situation where they are going to a town that doesn't want them," said Cherri Wolbrueck, co-owner of a Taylor bookstore.

I guess "Support Our Troops" is only a catchy phrase to the folks of Taylor, Texas.


Homeless Women Veterans Increase

From CNN: With the U.S. Army now at 15 percent female, and more women providing supporting roles in combat zones, female vets are becoming homeless at a faster rate than men, said Department of Veterans Affairs spokesman Pete Dougherty.

Read the full article

For a blog journaling the efforts of one female veteran going through this I highly recommend reading Soldier, Interrupted.


1440 KVON Interview - Talking About Homeless Veterans

Director Geoff Ryan and lead actor Bryan Kaplan were interviewed yesterday by Jeff Schechtman on KVON radio and got a chance to talk about the film as well as in depth about veterans and homelessness, and encouraging people to become active in helping struggling vets.


Helping Veterans #4

U.S. VETS is the largest non-profit organization in the country dedicated to helping homeless and at-risk veterans, and a nationally recognized leader in the field of service delivery to veterans.

They are a great resource for vets to find housing across the country. They also have many ways you can help out from a simple donation to more active participation.
$5 - feeds a homeless veteran for a day
$10 - bus tokens for a week
$25 - sheets, blanket, & pillow for a bed
$50 - new suit for a newly employed veteran
$100 - gas in the Outreach van for two weeks


POUR at the Bend Film Festival

Pour will be showing at the Bend Film Festival October 8-11, 2009.

For those of you in Bend who wish to help homeless veterans please check out COVO (Central Oregon Veterans Outreach). They do great work.


Permanent Housing For Homeless Vets in NYC

My hometown is doing good:
NYC - The Department of Homeless Services reduced the number of veterans living in city shelters by 60 percent from December 2006 to May 2009. In December 2006, city officials created a task force to begin moving homeless veterans into permanent housing.

Helping Veterans - Stand Downs

Stand downs are community events held to offer homeless veterans a safe retreat where they can take care of personal hygiene, get clean clothes, warm meals, medical & dental care and meet other vets or people in the community who are able to help.

There are many going on at all times of the year in communities across the nation so please check for ones in you area and see what you can do to help. It's one day of service to thank those who served for us.

2009 Stand Downs

Stand Downs are organized by the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. If there aren't any in your community please contact them to see what can be done.

Who Is A Homeless Veteran?

Article by Christine Schanes, J.D., Ph.D. - CHPHP (excerpt)

Used with permission

Who is a homeless veteran? Homeless veterans have one or more of the following characteristics:

• nearly 95% of homeless veterans are male, while 5% are female

• 45% of homeless Veterans have some kind of mental illness

• over 70% of homeless veterans suffer from alcohol or drug abuse

• 47% served in the Vietnam War

• 53% served in World War II, Korean War, Cold War, Grenada, Panama, Lebanon, Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan), Operation Iraqi Freedom, or the military's anti-drug cultivation efforts in South America.

• 67% served in the military for more than three years

• 33% served in a war zone

While it is unfortunate that anyone becomes homeless, veterans are more likely to become homeless than civilians. Why is this? No one knows for sure.

Researchers have found that military service is not a sole factor causing homelessness. Rather, studies suggest that military service can be a factor that can lead to personal experiences that can lead directly to homelessness.

For example, in "A Model of Homelessness Among Male Veterans of the Vietnam War Generation" from The American Journal of Psychiatry, authors, Robert Rosenheck and Alan Fontana pointed out that two military factors, combat exposure and participation in atrocities, contribute to "four post-military variables:

(1) low levels of social support upon returning home,

(2) psychiatric disorders (not including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD),

(3) substance abuse disorders, and

(4) being unmarried (including separation and divorce)

Thus, the study determines that it is these "four post-military variables" that can directly lead to homelessness for many veterans.

This is the best article I've read for those looking to understand why and how a veteran becomes homeless in America. I highly recommend reading the whole article here. (Huffington Post)

Helping Veterans #3

A central Iowa retailer has announced plans to donate $250,000 so that a group of veterans can fly to Washington, D.C. to see the new World War II memorial.


Casey's CEO Bob Myers said his company believes it has a duty to honor the commitment and sacrifice of 16 million Americans who served during the war and 400,000 who died.

While this isn't specifically about homeless veterans, it is still a notable gesture to veterans in general. For those who have never been to the memorial or would like to see it again, here's a link to a video I did of it while in DC last winter:

Helping Veterans #2

This is great. Many of the homeless vets I've met will got through shoes fast from wear and weather and a good pair of shoes can alleviate pains and add some comfort to an otherwise trying lifestyle.
Homeless veterans roaming the Tucson area wear out their shoes quickly, and replacements are hard to come by when money is scarce.
Enter a group of Oro Valley retirees with a soft spot for those who have served in the armed forces. In less than a week, Julia Zhan and her neighbors collected more than 170 sneakers, boots and sandals for homeless veterans.

This will be a continuing series on people and organizations helping veterans. If you have any suggestions please post in the comments and we'll try to publish them.

Too Many

Although accurate numbers are impossible to come by -- no one keeps national records on homeless veterans -- the VA estimates that 131,000 veterans are homeless on any given night. And approximately twice that many experience homelessness over the course of a year.


Veterans make up 1 in 4 homeless

Yet they are only 11% of the U.S. population.
And homelessness is not just a problem among middle-age and elderly veterans. Younger veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are trickling into shelters and soup kitchens seeking services, treatment or help with finding a job.
And this may explain part of the reason:
Jobless rate at 11.2% for veterans of Iraq, Afghanistan

Helping Veterans #1

With nearly half million veterans sleeping on the streets and more vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan finding themselves struggling in a jobless economic recovery it's good to see organizations like this helping out those who have served us so proudly.
Homes For Our Troops
Homes for Our Troops is a national nonprofit, nonpartisan 501c3 that builds specially adapted homes for severely injured veterans at no cost to them. We raise donations of money, land, building materials, and professional labor and coordinate the process of building a new specially adapted home to meet the needs of our severely injured service members.
This will be a continuing series on people and organizations helping veterans. If you have any suggestions please post in the comments and we'll try to publish them.

VA Neglecting Veterans

Disturbing news from the VA:
As vets await checks, VA workers get $24M bonuses

Outside the Veterans Affairs Department, severely wounded veterans have faced financial hardship waiting for their first disability payment. Inside, money has been flowing in the form of $24 million in bonuses.

"Pour" premiere

"Pour" will be playing at the Sonoma Napa Wine Country Film Festival in mid September.
The 23rd Wine Country Film Festival
Dates are September 17th - 27th, 2009
This popular roving festival takes place outdoors in spectacular settings and in select theaters and venues in Napa and Sonoma Valleys, Ca.
The festival presents features, documentaries, shorts and animation in six categories: World Cinema, Latin Cinema, US Cinema, The Arts in Film™ (films about music, dance and the arts,) Cinema of Conscience™ (films of social issues,) and Eco Cinema.