Over 37,000 veterans are homeless in the United States today, including 3,500 in Los Angeles County. That’s just over one-third of all homeless veterans. It’s a sad irony these brave soldiers now find themselves sleeping on the streets of the very country they fought to defend. They deserve our support.
U.S.VETS is the largest nonprofit with boots on the ground to combat America’s veteran homeless crisis head-on. Its holistic approach provides housing, counseling, career development and supportive services to help veterans and their families achieve stability, self-sufficiency and well-being. U.S.VETS supports more than 25,000 former service members every year. Veterans like Patrick Henderson.
Patrick grew up in a rough neighborhood, joining the Army to escape the bad influences his father figured would either land him jail or kill him. The military was a good fit for the LA native. He made the kind of friends he considered family. But with two kids at home, Patrick decided not to re-enlist, seeking the predictability of a civilian life, and secured a job as a supervisor at West LA VA Hospital, a position he held for nine years. Life was great. For a while. Then the stresses of life took a toll and made him sick. Patrick fell on hard times, ultimately losing his job and his wife. When he could no longer pay the rent, he took the last of his money and stayed in his car. Ashamed, Patrick didn’t even tell his kids he was homeless because he didn’t want to be a burden. He hit rock bottom the day his car was stolen. In an instant, everything he owned — and his spirit — were gone.
“The longer you’re out there, it changes the best person into the worst,” he said. “There were days I couldn’t eat. I was paranoid. And stuck in the streets.” For some, that’s where the story ends. But Patrick was lucky. With the help of his daughter, he found his way to U.S.VETS and back on his feet.
“U.S.VETS is the best thing that could have happened to him and for him,” said his son Patrick Jr.
Patrick tends to agree.
“My relationship with my kids and grandkids is totally complete. I fell down to zero. Now I’m back to normal,” he said, beaming.
“I finally feel safe.”
MAKE CAMO YOUR CAUSE
Join U.S.VETS on its mission to end veteran homelessness.
U.S.VETS is leading the effort to make camo print on Veterans Day the official symbol of veteran support in America. Camo was designed to conceal and protect soldiers in combat. But here at home, it demonstrates a belief that veterans deserve every opportunity to live with dignity and independence.
Last year, U.S.VETS’ Make Camo Your Cause campaign reached millions of households nationwide, and thousands of people across the country expressed their pride and patriotism by wearing camouflage on Veterans Day. Show your appreciation for veterans and their service this November 11 and post on social media using #HONORUSVETS.
Learn more at usvets.org.