On November 11, 2015, also known as Veterans Day, DVNF staff volunteered at Loaves and Fishes. Loaves and Fishes is a non-profit that provides nutritious cooked meals on weekends and federal holidays at no cost to low-income or homeless individuals.
According to The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates that 49,933 veterans are homeless on any given night.
Although the stats have decreased in recent years, it’s still doesn’t account for those future vets who are currently serving and those who are potentially facing homelessness due to financial hardships, and other common difficulties so many veterans face after they exit the military.
So for Veterans Day, DVNF wanted to pay our respects to the veterans who may have been overlooked. DVNF personally helped to cook and prepare food in the kitchen with other volunteers at Loaves and Fishes – to donate talents instead of treasures for those who once put their lives on the line for us!
Once the meal was cooked, we served the homeless vets in the DC metropolitan area and had a chance to speak with a few of them, and remind them that like all veterans, their service to our country really means a lot.
One of the biggest lessons we learned during our day of service at Loaves and Fishes was that we had much more in common with the veterans undergoing great hardship; we reflected on those common interests like enjoying time with family, discussing sports, and how Veterans Day is truly special to all of us
For example, when asked what this holiday means to a vet like himself, retired Naval Cadet Lafayette Owens Jr. responded, “a day of celebration and patriotism.”
When asked what veterans day meant for him, Shellie L Harris, the son of an Army veteran said, “this holiday means everything to me.” Harris added, “it’s a day to reflect on what the military and my father has done for this country.”
This is one of the reasons that DVNF exists – to provide assistance to homeless and low-income veterans, just as we did on Veterans Day, and just as we do so often through our programs.
Having the opportunity to serve these veterans is also a reminder of how we must continue the fight to end homelessness amongst our veterans, but to also pay added focus to preventing future veterans from becoming homeless!
As Mr. Owens told DVNF, “this country has so many resources, so why is (sic) there so many homeless vets, especially war vets?”
Although, there are many layers to answer that question, DVNF works tirelessly to help end that stigma.
We don’t only have programs that directly impact our vets but we are also in the field like we were on Veterans Day, making a positive impact and seeing what additional resources our veterans need to have a successful future.
We strongly encourage those who can’t financially make a difference in our vets’ lives to volunteer and spend time with them!
As Army Veteran, Michael Wheeler-Dey Sr. said, “seeing people like yourselves giving back and spending time with vets like me warms my heart!”
Mr. Owens, added, “I am grateful for places like DVNF and Loaves and Fishes that take the time to give back to vets like myself.”
To learn about other opportunities to give back to our vets visit: www.dvnf.org.
Tags: Disabled Veterans National Foundation, Employment, Health & Comfort, Homeless, Military, PTSD, Resources, Traumatic Brain Injury, Veterans