THE MANY FACES OF HOMELESSNESS: HOW YOU CAN HELP

blog_title_image_homelessnessKnowing how to help a homeless person can sometimes feel difficult, confusing and overwhelming. The dollar you give might be used to buy drugs or alcohol. Even offering food can be a problem – imagine handing an apple to a homeless man and then discovering he has no teeth. Just as there are many reasons people become homeless, there are also many ways to help. Understanding the leading causes of homelessness is often the best way to learn what the homeless need and how you can make a positive difference in their lives. The chronically homeless, who often struggle with mental health or substance abuse issues, need a safe and stable living environment where they can get counseling and health care. To help them, consider volunteering at a local shelter or halfway house that provides longer-term housing. Donating clean towels, pillows and blankets can also help create a comfortable and safe living environment. The majority of homeless youth bw_homeless_teens_21461332have been kicked out of their homes or abandoned by parents or guardians. Others who left on their own accord have suffered physical and emotional abuse at the hands of their families. For many, trusting another adult or authority figure can be difficult. One of the best ways to help is to simply ask them what they need. Maybe it’s a hot meal, a warm coat or a clean pair of socks; or maybe it’s information on how to get into foster care, enroll in a drug and alcohol detox program or register for the GED. Taking the time to listen to their needs, and to follow through, can go a long way in helping them regain their trust in others and get off the streets. imm needs housing homelessFor many veterans, physical disability, mental anguish and post-traumatic stress can make readjusting to civilian life very difficult. This can lead to drug and alcohol addiction, the inability to hold down a steady job and homelessness. Because many veterans have very specific needs to help them get back on their feet—job placement services, medical services, housing assistance, counseling—there are numerous ways to get involved. Consider donating your time or money to organizations which help homeless vets:

While we need to address the problem of homelessness as a whole, the more we can understand each person’s individual circumstances, the more we can help. Before making assumptions or judgments, take the time to ask some questions and do a little research. It can make all the difference. The Face(s) of Homelessness

  • Number of homeless in the United States: 610,042
  • Number of chronic homeless: 109,132 (18%)
  • Number of homeless youth under 18: 380,000
  • Number of homeless veterans: 57,849 (9%)

For more charities helping the homeless with shelter, counseling services and job training.

-Amelia Glynn, Marketing Contractor

Our veterans deserve our thanks and support

According to MilitaryReporter.Net, the United States is home to more than 22 million veterans. This Memorial Day show your support, not only for our military currently fighting overseas and those that gave their lives, but also for our veterans at home as well.

Their changing needs

Nearly one in all 10 veterans has served in our Armed Forces since September 2001, and these veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have different needs than veterans of the wars in Korea and Vietnam. Most are men and women in their 20s and 30s who are just starting families and trying to find employment in a tough economy.

Many veteran assistance organizations are struggling to survive when the services they offer aren’t meeting the needs or being used by vets today. Thankfully, some organizations are finding new ways to reach out and assist today’s veterans. Retired U.S. Air Force Major, Dorian de Wind, writes about how the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) organization is responding to the issue in his Huffington Post article:

“VFW posts are often times viewed as smoke-filled ‘watering holes’ where a bunch of old guys sit around drinking beer, playing bingo and telling war stories.” Members of the VFW Post 4443 in Texas want to be “a safe haven for returning veterans…a place where they can enjoy the quiet peace and tranquility needed for them to find themselves…a place where they can bring their families and enjoy the swimming pool, quiet game rooms, picnic and BBQ areas.”

NPR News addressed the same topic with Robert Siegel on All Things Considered. They talked about a relatively new organization located in Milwaukee, Dryhootch, whose motto is “helping the veteran and their family who survived the war, survive the peace.” It started as a coffee house where veterans can re-connect and find the support they need without feeling forced to commit to a VA program or using alcohol or other substances to fill a void. Dryhootch offers peer-to-peer support to veterans of all eras. They also have an online community and resources—offering services in other ways that may make new veterans feel more comfortable receiving help, advice, or counseling.

Organizations helping veterans

There are many great organizations working to provide veterans with the support they need. A few I’d like to mention:

  • The Wounded Warrior Project offers numerous resources for veterans—advocacy, counseling, family support, peer mentoring, and work programs. Their Combat Stress Recovery Program addresses the mental health needs of recently-returned soldiers, providing them with the tools to recognize what they are going through and helping them understand how to deal with it.
  • Soldier Ride gives returned soldiers a way to “reclaim their confidence and strength through the exhilaration of cycling.” The focus of the ride is to give wounded soldiers a way to empower themselves and improve their physical and mental health.
  • The Warriors to Work program helps veterans figure out how to use their military skills to enter the civilian workforce. They also educate employers on the benefits of hiring veterans as well as fight common misconceptions about veterans.

This Memorial Day, why not make it a point to help a veteran’s organization continue to offer necessary services by starting a monthly recurring donation to one of these organizations? We enjoy the freedom they have fought to give us—and they deserve our thanks and support. I think we owe them that.

Do you have a special way to honor and support those who have served? Share it with us on Facebook and let’s get others on board too!

Marketing Assistant, Julia Hughes