UTICA, New York – Feed Our Vets (www.feedourvets.org), a nonprofit organization dedicated to stocking food pantries across the nation in the battle against hunger among U.S. veterans, is urging lawmakers and Americans not to ease up on efforts to help homeless veterans despite the slight decrease in their numbers.
A new annual report on homelessness released this week by the Department of Housing and Urban Development showed a decline in homeless veterans of 7.2% since 2011 and 17% since 2009.
Despite the drop in numbers, there are still an identified 62,619 homeless veterans in America. The challenge of finding them housing and jobs remains extremely critical, said Richard Synek, the founder and Executive Director of Feed Our Vets.
“Americans need to remember that these are men and women who selflessly served our country and are homeless because of problems in their lives after they came home – problems that for most of them were caused by their military service,” said Synek. “Until there are no homeless veterans, we cannot ease up for one minute on our collective effort to make sure that every one of them has adequate housing and food for themselves and their families.”
The study defined a person as chronically homeless if they have been homeless for one year or more, or if they are disabled and have experienced at least four instances of homelessness in the past three years. One in three chronically homeless people in America is a U.S. military veteran, and nearly 3 million veterans and their families don’t have enough to eat each month. Feed Our Vets works to establish veteran-oriented food pantries in cities and towns across the United States to meet those hunger needs.
Synek praised the Department of Veterans Affairs for increasing grants to help homeless veterans next year. According to U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki the agency will devote $300 million in 2013 to providing veterans with support services, such as help with utility bills or moving expenses, while they live in or transition to permanent housing. The investment represents a healthy increase from the $100 million that was spent on the program in 2012.
However, Synek cautioned that the VA grants are just one facet of the larger effort required to eradicate homelessness among veterans.
“Everyone needs to help, individuals and agencies as well as the government,” he said. “Every day, more than 1,000 active duty personnel become U.S. veterans and some of them will end up homeless, and so will their families.” Veterans who are struggling with hunger can find a food pantry in their area on the Feed Our Vets resource page, along with other agencies that offer assistance and support for homecoming soldiers.
About Feed Our Vets: Feed Our Vets is a nonprofit food pantry created to provide nutritious food to United States veterans whose circumstances have left them on the battlefield of hunger. The organization stocks food pantries across the country to feed the more than 130,000 veterans who are homeless or hungry on any given night in America. Feed Our Vets serves not only veterans, but also men and women still enlisted in the military, along with their families. For more information, visit www.feedourvets.org.