Life after serving in the military can pose many challenges to veterans and their beloved family members. To many, returning to civilian life may feel like another battle that possess a variety of challenges that must not only be fought but also understood and accepted in order to be successfully overcome. There are many factors involved in adjustment. For instance, coexisting with other cultures, values, and norms different from those of the army. Establishing and re-establishing relationships with family and friends. Finding a new career path. Dealing with authority figures. Understanding and abiding by civilian legal standards that may be different from military standards. Locating a new home. Generally, transitioning from the army can be a very difficult experience, it is like one has to start all over again.
Hence with lack of support and social isolation after discharge, it is not surprising that veterans become homeless. It may also be compounded by poverty, lack of support networks and dismal living conditions in overcrowded or substandard housing.
In a bid to come to the rescue of these ex-servicemen, the city government agencies and advocacy groups have created living space for over 1300 veterans who had formerly been living on the streets since the beginning of 2013.
The City Of Brotherly Love is really starting to live up to its name, as Philadelphia has become recognized in recent years as a national leader in combatting homelessness for its veteran population.
Julian Castro, US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development said “You have actually done it! You have effectively ended veteran homelessness. The thing is that we can’t stop our work until every single veteran has a place to call home in the United States.”
And Philly is not through yet. A partnership between the Philadelphia Housing Authority and an organization called HELP USA is also working on a project to convert the historic Spring Garden School into more such housing Instead of tearing it down as earlier VB planned.
A groundbreaking ceremony on September 23 had city officials and representatives of HELP USA publicly presenting their joint plan for the building that has been unoccupied for more than 40 years.Speaking with local press, David Cleghorn of HELP USA said,
Speaking with local press, David Cleghorn of HELP USA said,
“It would have been far too expensive and a shame to tear it down. We haven’t gotten any pushback or a single negative comment on this project. The building has been an eyesore for a while and a safety issue that needed to be addressed. People are excited about it.”
The building which was constructed in 1927, and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986, is the fifth project in Philly for HELP USA. so far, the non-profit organization has invested fifty-six million dollars in the city.
The project will yield 37 units of affordable housing for low-income seniors, with 12 units specifically earmarked for homeless veterans. The project has a 14.5 million dollar budget, of which 13.7 million has already been secured through grants and private donations.
Cleghorn continued, “All of these projects are immensely successful. Once these vets are in our apartments, they have support services right there on site. What keeps them there is that they really form a community of shared military experience. They look out for one another. They’re happy and proud of where they live, and that makes us happy and proud. Our housing projects in Philadelphia started in the late ’90s. Some are for seniors 55 and up and others are for veterans, many of them formerly homeless and recovering from substance abuse, others with mental health conditions or disabilities. We try to fill needs when there’s a need. We’ve built houses for people with HIV, victims of domestic violence and communities that live with mental health conditions. It’s a no-brainer for veterans. They’ve made sacrifices for us and they deserve to have a place to live. It’s the right thing to do.”
Together with Drexel University and other community partners, HELP USA will provide a range of on-site services including health care, counseling, employment and youth mentorship programs. The work is expected to be done around summer of 2017 and it should start receiving its first residents by the end of next year.
It is great that someone out there recognizes the hard work and selflessness of the men in uniform. These veterans go out of their way and sacrifice everything, even their families in order to serve their country.
Thanks to all the organizations that have come up to willingly help and provide shelter plus other basic needs to the men in uniform.
Doesn’t this sound like a great project? Is anyone doing something like this where you live? Please share your thoughts with us here in the comments section. We would love to hear from you. Share this story and help build a home for a disabled veteran.
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