Program Helps Homeless Vets in Denver

Program Helps Homeless Vets in Denver

If there’s a specific job news that truly breaks my heart, it’s news of people losing their homes or having to simply live on the street due to lack of a job. It’s sad whether it’s a man, woman, or child, and it’s something that we truly have the power to fix. According to the latest Mother Jones magazine, the $14 trillion Wall Street Bailout would have easily bought a home for every homeless American—which would have cost $878 billion, leaving plenty to spare.

And we treat our homeless people so horribly. I hear people berate the homeless so much, but when I studied them through interviews with StandUp for Kids, actual homeless people, and did research for homeless projects years ago, I learned that many homeless people are children who have been abused and people with mental illnesses. That isn’t a call for berating people; it’s a cry for help.

And when we hear about so many homeless veterans living on the streets, how can we not be outraged? I’m not saying that it’s even worse than homeless children, but these men and women did put their lives on the line for our country, giving up their own freedoms and lives and families to serve—and are now scrounging in garbage cans for food? (Unfortunately, many of these vets are also now victims of mental illness, often due to combat stress and disorders.)

Many lose their jobs at home due to illness, and others have become recently homeless due to money losses during the recession. There is something incredibly wrong with this picture.

Fortunately Denver is taking action for the city’s hundreds of homeless vets with Denver’s Homeless Veteran Reintegration Program. The program, which has been around for seven years, has helped over 600 vets get new lives. It provides job support, clothing, and even bus fare so vets can get back on their feet and get new jobs. This year, the program was even given a prestigious area award—the Homeless Veteran Outreach Award.  

Iris Alred, a retired Air Force Major, is a case manager for the program. He says “the people are willing to work at just about anything.” And the program, run on only a $300,000 grant, amazingly supplies the city with work and generates $2.5 million in wages. If only the rest of the country could pick up such an incredible program and apply it to each major city in the U.S.—imagine how many people could get back on their feet.