No veteran should have to suffer homelessness, but the good news is that the number of veterans experiencing homelessness is declining. A point-in-time survey by the Department of Veterans Affairs reports that just over 37,000 veterans were homeless in January 2019, a 2.1 percent decrease over 2018, and a decline of almost 40 percent since 2010.
At City Union Mission, an average of 10 to 20 homeless guests and recovery residents are veterans. The reasons for homelessness vary from mental health disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, to addiction to affordable housing. “Like many homeless individuals, veterans are faced with a shortage of affordable housing, insufficient income and inadequate access to health care,” said Chief Executive Officer Dr. Terry Megli.
City Union Mission is addressing these issues by providing essential services such as balanced meals and safe shelter, providing resident recovery programs to address addiction and emotional and spiritual issues, and working closely with Veterans Affairs to offer referrals for counseling, affordable housing, medical care and mental health services. “Our programs and services restore health and dignity to our veterans, helping them navigate the local resources they need to rebuild productive and fulfilling lives at home and in the workplace,” said Megli.
“We relied on them to protect our freedom and now they depend on us to survive. This Independence Day, we have the opportunity to show our appreciation to service members and remind them that they have not been forgotten and their sacrifices were not in vain,” Megli said.
City Union Mission is inviting the community this weekend to provide a gift to serve veterans and other homeless individuals with safe shelter, balanced meals, recovery services and case management at cityunionmission.org, or to call (816) 474-9380 to learn more.