An effective Veteran Homelessness Program requires knowledge of the Veterans Advocacy Network and a commitment to a hands-on approach. Recently, when two opportunities were presented, members of the Paul Revere Post 623 Community were able to meet the needs of two homeless Veterans. At our last Post Meeting Commander Byron Watson made two positive reports of how our Post contributed to the support of two homeless Veterans.
On January 27th, 2013, the Post was able to connect a homeless “The Marine Veteran” with the resources and support he needed. Post Adjutant Paul Knudtson, while on his way to O’Hare Airport, noticed John walking the the line of cars near the intersection of Harlem and Grand Ave. After stopping and getting out of his car to talk to him, Paul discovered that the “The Marine Veteran” was living in the forest preserve nearby after recently losing his job. “The Marine Veteran” had a prepaid cell phone and Paul took his number and immediately sent an email to several post members and others in the Veterans Advocacy Network. Soon, Sons of the American Legion Squadron 623 Commander, Tom Vacala, replied with information about Interfaith House emergency shelter that would get him in a warm place to stay on a night that would turn out to filled with freezing rain. That information was shared with Paul Bezazian, Director of the VFW State of Illinois Homeless Veterans Program. Paul was out in his mobile homeless Veterans truck delivering over 1000 meals, as he does every Sunday, when he contacted “The Marine Veteran” on his cell phone. Paul was able to connect him with temporary housing for a week and provided him with two coats, pants, shirts, sweats, long johns, underwear, socks and some food, snacks, and drinks. A few days later “The Marine Veteran” was able to move in with a friend and was connected with the state service officer to provide him with additional support and resources.
A month later, on February 28th, 2013, a second opportunity to serve a homeless veteran was presented. After meeting with SAL Squadron 623 member, Cris DePhilips, earlier in the day discussing the prospects for establishing a viable homeless Veterans program, Paul Knudtson was again contacted; this time by Cris who was looking for assistance in placing a homeless Veterans who was threatening suicide. Earlier that day, “The Veteran” came to National Able Network offices upset because he found out that he had to vacate the place where he had been staying. Clearly distraught, as he was explaining his situation to his case manager, he mentioned suicide: A HUGE RED FLAG. His case manager immediately began looking for a place for this Veteran to stay and stabilize, and frustrated by her contacts, the case manager reached out to Cris for help, which is when he reached out to Paul Revere Post 623. Once again, our comrade Paul Bezazian came through with the connection to Featherfist. Unable to get placed right away, but Cris was able to find a place for “The Veteran” to stay for the weekend, yet he continued to follow up on the lead at Featherfist that Paul had given. On March 5th, 2013, we received word that “The Veteran” was actually placed in one of Featherfist’s forts! This was GREAT news because “The Veteran” is now off the street with a roof over his head, and he is now able to focus on getting squared away, both mentally and financially.
Solving the problem of Veteran homelessness requires passion, persistence and a commitment to extend a hand to our brothers and sisters-in-arms who need our support. You can make a difference. To find out come out to our next Post Meeting and tell us you want to get involved.