In the coming years, our nation’s cities and towns will welcome home more than 1 million veterans. They will join more than 20 million veterans in the United States who have served our country since World War II. Each of these veterans brings tremendous talents and gifts. They all deserve our welcome, our acknowledgment of their commitment to this country and our sensitivity to the needs that they and their families face as they return to civilian life.
Elected officials and municipal staff can provide critical leadership and leverage local, state and federal resources to support the work of non-profits, military service organizations, faith communities, educational institutions, local businesses and foundations to ensure success in the post-service lives of all veterans. To help local government better support military veterans and their families, NLC is working with The Home Depot Foundation to ensure all veterans have a place to call home.
In support of the national goal to end veteran homelessness by 2015, NLC has launched the Homeless Veteran Leadership Network. The leadership network connects city leaders to existing and emerging efforts to end veteran homelessness and provides officials with the opportunity for peer learning of best practices.
Knowing the extent of veteran needs in your city or town is a critical first step in making an impact. Not all needs are the same. Some veterans have experienced chronic homelessness and/or have severe injuries requiring long-term supportive services. Other veterans have more moderate disabilities that can improve with monitored treatment and therapy. Still others may require accessibility accommodations and are able to live independently.
Meeting the housing needs of veterans is a first step towards successful reintegration into a community. Federal, state, and local resources are widely available and provide key support, but additional resources are necessary. Partnerships with military service organizations, non-profits, faith communities, local businesses, educational institutions, and philanthropies are critical. The leadership and local knowledge of elected officials along with the support of municipal staff can mean the difference between success and failure.