Homeless Veterans in Lake City

by Elly Vos

Why should our Veterans sleep on the streets?

Did you know that 39,471 of our veteran service men and women spend their nights without a bed to sleep in or a roof over their head? The people who have protected and defended our country go without food water and shelter. These are basic human rights! Progress has been made to end homeless, but there is much more that can be done.
People become homeless for a myriad of reasons. For veterans, the most common causes include an extreme shortage of affordable housing, finding a livable income, and access to health care. Many of these homeless or displaced veterans live with lingering effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse, compounded by a lack of family and social support networks.
The VA does address the needs of veterans to a certain extent. According to National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, “VA’s specialized homelessness programs provide health care to almost 150,000 men and women who have served our country”. Many veterans reach out to nonprofit or community-based organizations for assistance such as “veterans helping veterans” groups. These programs feature substance-free transitional housing with fellow veterans who are working towards the same goal- a better life.
While veteran homelessness dropped by 47 percent(nearly 35,000 people) between 2010 and 2016, and by another 8,000 between 2015 and 2016, much work still remains to be done to end veteran homelessness.

What can I do?

  1. Volunteer with a homeless or domestic violence shelter like Another Way Inc. Your expertise could be used in so many ways. Writing resumes, cooking, cleaning, playing games with kids, and office assistance. Even sharing coffee with someone in need will make someone’s day.
    • Lad Soup Kitchen – 127 W Escambia St Lake City FL
    • Veterans Inn – 5329 US Highway 441 Lake City FL – donate here
  2. Involve others. If you are not already part of an organization, align yourself with a few other people who are interested in confronting this issue. Invite friends to a dinner party and have them bring new socks and underwear to donate to the homeless.
  3. Participate in events with Coalition for the Homeless Central Florida such as the Doug Spencer Golf Challenge
  4. Raise awareness through education and participation by volunteering with your children.
  5. Contact your elected officials, Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio to discuss what is being done in your community for homeless veterans. Nelson 202-224-5274 or Rubio 202-224-3041