In Honor of Veterans Day
November 4, 2016
Written by the NVTAC Blogger
On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in the year 1919, guns stopped firing, and the “Great War” ended. That was the day the Allies and the Germans signed the armistice that ended “the war to end all wars”; the day was declared the First Armistice Day. It wasn’t until the second global war that we started assigning numbers to them, and “the war to end all wars” became “World War I.”
In the modern era, we in the United States call that first Armistice Day “Veterans Day” (in other countries, it’s called “Remembrance Day”). The purpose of this day is not to celebrate or glorify war, but to honor all those who have served bravely in our armed forces and to recognize the sacrifices they have made.
Honoring our veterans goes beyond flag-waving and parades. As a society, it’s our job to ensure our heroes have a meaningful place in the society for which they served. In light of their sacrifice for our country, veterans deserve the respect, honor, and dignity of a grateful nation. But what does that look like in tangible terms? How do we actualize these sentiments? As a society we have a duty to ensure veterans have, at the very least, a modicum of a decent and comfortable life. This includes, at bare minimum, a place to call home, gainful employment, and treatment for the wounds of war. We who have lived in relative peace and security should strive to meet these needs for veterans. Sadly, all too often, we fall short of meeting these needs for our Seamen, Soldiers, “Coasties,” Marines, and Airmen—including members of the Guard and Reserve who were activated in service of our nation.
Unfortunately, there are still many veterans who still need our help; men and women who have found themselves living on the very streets they served and defended. To be fair, great progress has been made, but there is still plenty of work to be done. Homelessness among veterans has been reduced by more than 51 percent in the last 6 years. This is due, in no small part, to the adoption of “Opening Doors.” In 2010, the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness unveiled this bold plan to address homelessness, including the goal of ending veteran homelessness by 2016. It has been highly effective: The total number of homeless veterans in the 2016 Point in Time (PIT) count was 39,417, down from 76,329 in the 2010 PIT count. Major progress has occurred, but there are still far too many veterans experiencing homelessness in our nation and more work needs to be done.
AHP and its NVTAC staff have been part of this progress and are committed to doing the hard work necessary to end veteran homelessness. Several recent projects have not only looked at the immediate housing needs of veterans, but also at longer-term stability, sustainability, and success of veterans struggling to readjust to civilian life. Housing alone does not solve homelessness; veterans should have access to a career path that not only helps them get a job, but allows them the dignity to contribute to their own well-being.
Focusing on the “whole veteran” and finding ways to provide benefits, income supports, training, and placement into competitive, meaningful employment are all part of this forward-thinking model. In the past, employment has often taken a back seat to housing and other services, yet part of the way forward includes helping veterans get back into the workforce. Our experiences working with veterans have shown us that the majority don’t just want a “handout,” they want to give back and be members of their community. Helping veterans obtain and keep employment not only helps individual veterans, it strengthens our society as a whole. If you are an employer who would like to hire a veteran, or if you just want to help, reach out to one of the Homeless Veteran Reintegration Programs at http://www.nvtac.org/grants/ or contact NVTAC.
Many of us will be enjoying a 3-day weekend in honor of Veterans Day, and we urge you to take a moment to reflect on the sacrifices these men and women have made on our behalf. This is a time to reach out to veterans in our lives and acknowledge their service sacrifice, and a time to continue doing the hard work to make veteran homelessness a thing of the past.
We’d like to hear what you think. Let us know your ideas. Write us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Homeless Veteran Reintegration Programs (HVRPs) help veterans experiencing homelessness find their place in the workforce. HVRPs can be found at http://www.nvtac.org/grantees.
Joe Manney at Advocates for Human Potential acts as the Blog Moderator for NVTAC Blog and welcomes all questions, comments, or concerns that you may have regarding this blog.
Preparation of this item was funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, Veterans’ Employment Training Service under cooperative agreement HV25269-14-75-5-25. This document does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the DOL, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. government. The National Veterans Technical Assistance Center (NVTAC) is a partnership among Advocates for Human Potential (AHP), the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV) and the U.S. Department of Labor, Veterans Employment and Training Services (DOL-VETS).