John Taylor, our Veterans Coordinator, last afternoon spoke at a Roll Call Event to End Veteran Homelessness. This event was coordinated by the Muskegon County Homeless Continuum of Care Network to highlight our participation with the MSHDA (Michigan State Housing Development Authority) and the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency as part of Michigans Pledge to End Veteran's Homelessness.
Here's a summary of what John, a veteran himself had to say;
"I have the opportunity to briefly share with you from the Frontline. This is what I see when I am working with a homeless veteran. Like each one of us, they are beyond simple categorization, but there are some commonalities I regularly see.
I see VULNERABILITY
Our veterans are not victims, but they are vulnerable
Many have been taught by their training to not recognize their vulnerability
Health Issues; Some service-related
Relationship Issues; Some have experienced the indescribable
Reintegration issues; For some, the world is never the same
Many of these hard-working, caring men and women are self-medicating
Some are on the edge of death; often minimal, timely intervention can save a life;
Consider how quickly 11 days passes; That’s how long it took this Summer between the last contact, and the death on the streets of one of our most vulnerable veterans;
As a community, we need to equip ourselves; pledging to work together to move faster, improve our processes, house these veterans and provide them services.
This is not just a VA (Veterans Affairs) problem. This is our problem. And it can no longer be tolerated.
I see VALUE
These are individuals who are trained with a special skill-set;
But they are also able to quickly learn new skill sets, when they have a safe-haven, so they don’t have to be in battle mode. That’s why we must support Housing First. To give our veterans a sanctuary, a place of respite, a home; while we provide support and other services they may need.
This tells them that we think they are valuable. That we recognize their importance to society. That we value their contributions. That we think they have worth.
I see VICTORY
When set with a task, these men and women get the job done;
But they are trained to not go it alone;
They move as a team; "I've Got Your 6 " (I Have Your Back)- We become their team. We support them in battle; We have their backs;
And our veterans are coming home! Let’s work to bring the rest home; We can do this. We can end veterans homelessness; we can help them once again believe in and experience victory!"