Those who have served in our nation’s military are part of a small, resilient community. But when circumstances change and obstacles add up, some veterans need our support to thrive after service. The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans reports that while only 7 percent of the general U.S. population are veterans, nearly 13 percent of the homeless adult population are veterans. The Bob Woodruff Foundation recently identified veteran homelessness and housing insecurity as a top concern in 2022.
Housing is more than just shelter – it is the foundation for a stable, healthy life. That’s why we continue to work with our Got Your 6 Network to address gaps in publicly administered programs and ensure all veterans experiencing or at risk of homelessness have access to the full range of services they need to succeed in their communities.
One of the organizations the Bob Woodruff Foundation is proud to partner with to tackle veteran homelessness and housing insecurity is the United States Veterans Initiative (U.S.VETS). At ten residential service centers across five states and Washington, D.C., U.S.VETS seeks to address the inequities in communities that lead to disproportionate rates of homelessness and unemployment among veterans. They provide permanent and transitional housing, counseling, career development, and comprehensive support to military veterans and their families. Each year, the U.S.VETS Inglewood location provides transitional and permanent housing to over 600 veterans, helps over 100 veterans return to employment through their workforce development program, and provides rapid-rehousing and homeless prevention services to over 300 veteran households.
In Fall 2021, BWF awarded U.S.VETS an NFL-BWF Salute to Service grant to support their residential sites in California, Las Vegas, Hawaii, and Arizona, targeting those states with especially high rates of unsheltered homelessness. Last month, the BWF team had the pleasure of visiting our partner U.S.VETS at their inaugural residential site in Inglewood, CA.
The Bob Woodruff Foundation’s Anne Marie Dougherty, Dave Woodruff, Meg Harrell, and Sean Ansted were greeted by U.S.VETS dedicated staff and leadership. The team got to know Deborah Osborne, a U.S.VETS case manager supported through their NFL-BWF grant, and two of her resident clients. The visit included a tour of the facility, including a VA support office located on-site, and the Career Center, where veterans can meet with career counselors, enroll in workshops, and use the computer lab to create resumes and search for jobs.
“Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to homelessness,” said Anne Marie Dougherty, the CEO of the Bob Woodruff Foundation. “Each person’s life experience is different, and there are many unexpected challenges that can often and quickly result in housing insecurity. With our NFL partners, we’re connecting veterans with comprehensive resources and support to ensure sustainable housing is within reach.”
At BWF, we know solving a complex issue like veteran homelessness requires support and collaboration across sectors and within communities. Partners like U.S.VETS exemplify the value of a holistic approach, and the role both public and private stakeholders play in ensuring communities have the resources and capacity they need to fully meet the needs of the veterans they serve.
“At U.S.VETS, our mission is to end veteran homelessness,” Stephen Peck, President and CEO of U.S.VETS, shared. “Private funding from partners like the Bob Woodruff Foundation gives us the opportunity to pilot new and innovative programs through our career development initiatives, mental health counseling, women veteran programs, aftercare, and programs for student veterans. This allows us to develop and expand our programs, which have been adopted by HUD and the VA as model programs to serve more veterans.”
This story was originally published by the Bob Woodruff Foundation here.