On November 11th, the country will celebrate Veterans Day. It is an important day here at St. Vincent de Paul Louisville as we celebrate the 20 veterans who we support with transitional housing at Ozanam Inn. Our approach of Home Begins Here is demonstrated every month with our veterans.
On any given night, here in Louisville and across the country, hundreds and thousands of veterans are living on the streets or in shelter systems. Many are chronically homeless and suffer from higher rates of mental illness and health problems.
St. Vincent de Paul Louisville works in partnership with the Veterans Administration to offer transitional housing to these heroes. Ranging in age from 30 to 67, they typically stay in our program for 8 months. During that time, our Case Manager helps them navigate the veteran system, which can become overwhelming if you are not familiar with it. One of the ways we assist Veterans is pointing them in the direction of getting the benefits that are available to them. The many programs out there to assist veterans are not highly visible or easily accessible.
We empower Veterans to build a budget and get some of the things people need when they move into housing, such as dishes, pots and pans, appliances, etc.
While moving into a new home can be stressful, one housing item they don’t need to worry about is a comfortable bed. St. Vincent de Paul Louisville recently received a grant from HomeServe Cares Foundation, which is the philanthropic arm of HomeServe USA. Through the grant and the program, called A Place To Lay Their Head, St. Vincent de Paul Louisville was able to supply a new queen bed, complete with linens and pillows, to every veteran who needs one. This allows our veteran clients to start their new life adventure by getting a good night sleep.
The joy the veterans have when we tell them we can provide a bed is amazing. Usually the reaction is “ARE YOU SERIOUS? NO WAY, YOU CAN DO THAT!” This grant has had a positive impact on the men here, and they are all very grateful.
Even with the pandemic, we have successfully transitioned ten veterans to permanent housing. Seven have received a new bed through the program. Our first, Mr. Barr is extremely happy with the bed we provided through the grant. He has stated that he was surprised at the comfort and nothing beats a good night sleep.
Transition to permanent housing is never easy, but with good planning, we usually experience fewer difficulties. In a perfect world, the process of Veterans getting the benefits would be easier and less stressful to the people involved. The wait time for some of the programs can be up to eight months, and many need those benefits now. With the system we have now, as long as we have open communication with the Veterans about their needs, we can make it as smooth as possible. St. Vincent de Paul Louisville’s goal is always to make the transition successful, but also sustainable. We are thrilled to allow these heroes the opportunity to live the life they deserve.