For many people, Memorial Day marks the start of summer. The start of backyard barbeques, family vacations, no school, and a break from work. But this day is more than just a day off. Memorial Day is time to pause and to honor the men and women who sacrificed their lives for the safety of the United States.
For many veterans the battle doesn’t end at the front lines. It continues when they return home. So, what happens when our veterans fall on hard times and need a helping hand? At the Mission, we pull our resources together to serve those who have honorably served our country.
According to the US Department and Housing and Urban Development (HUD), this year’s estimate finds 37,085 veterans experienced homelessness in January 2019. Veterans who are experiencing homelessness are 90.3 percent are men, while 8.9 percent are women.
The majority of the veteran homeless population consists of men and women over the age of 51 with most of whom served in Vietnam. John Parker is a guest currently in the Mission’s New Beginnings Program. He served at Desert Storm and came to the Mission suffering from alcoholism due to PTSD. He came to the Mission looking for hope and a new start. Today, our military has a better understanding of PTSD and regularly trains their troops to recognize the signs. They also offer many services to help those struggling with the effects of PTSD. However that wasn’t the case with John Parker. Research indicates that those who served in the late Vietnam and post-Vietnam eras are at the greatest risk of becoming homeless because at the time of their service, we didn’t know enough about PTSD and how to treat it. But times have changed and the Mission is ready to serve our veterans in need.
So, what is the best way to honor the memory of our fallen brothers and sisters this Memorial Day? To help their brothers and sisters who are struggling with PTSD as a result of their military service.
We can all agree that no veteran should die as a result of suicide and untreated PTSD. As a community, we must do better. Here are just some ways we can help our struggling veterans:
First, pray daily for our homeless veterans that are at the Mission and ones that have not found their way to the Mission yet. Pray for hope, healing and restoration.
Second, send any veteran that is experiencing homelessness or on the fringe of homelessness to the Mission.
Third, support the Mission and the work that we do with your time, talent and resources.
The Mission has successfully helped many veterans overcome their struggles and given them the tools they need to be productive members of our community.
To those in uniform serving today, to those who have served in the past, and to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom, we say thank you.