Through our Homeless Veterans Taskforce, The American Legion lobbies for legislation that will provide services and resources to help get veterans off the streets and into a stable environment. At the local level, American Legion posts and family members are providing guidance and assistance to homeless veterans. Here are three examples from February.
From sub-zero temperatures to snow drifts lining the field adjacent to Corey E. Garver America Legion Post 202 in Topsham, Maine, the conditions don’t matter as much as the event’s cause of raising money to help end veteran homelessness in Maine. The motto for Post 202’s sixth annual Winter Classic softball game is: “We play in the cold so that veterans don’t have to live in the cold.”
Each year the money raised has gone to a local or state program that focuses on veteran homelessness. This year’s funds went to Maine Veterans In Need, a nonprofit that consists of members of the Maine American Legion, the Bureau of Maine Veteran Services, the Department of Veterans Affairs and other service organizations. Teams were asked to donate $200, but many increased that donation. Additional funds raised and donated, along with a raffle and 50/50 drawing, brought this year’s total raised to more than $4,500.
“It takes a community to save a community,” said former Post 202 Commander Nik Hamlin who is now is a member of American Legion Post 158 in Lisbon to be closer to home.
District 2 Kansas American Legion members are a testament to what can be accomplished by working together for a common purpose. In 36 months, they have raised nearly $103,000 for the Kansas City-based Veterans Community Project (VCP) to aid in its mission of ending veteran homelessness through the building of tiny homes and onsite resource assistance. Of those funds, a check for $54,516 was presented to VCP during the recent fourth Hold ‘Em for Heroes charity event.
The Hold ‘Em for Heroes charity event gathered nearly 400 Legion Family members, veterans and community members under one roof at Linden-Tripkos VFW Post 6654 in Desoto, Kan., to support VCP and four other Kansas-based nonprofit veterans organizations. All proceeds raised from the event’s poker tournament, all-you-can-eat taco bar, raffle drawings, live auction, 50/50 cash drawing, drinks and camaraderie benefited the veterans’ groups.
“Everything we do … it’s an American Legion Family event because it takes a group to do something like this,” said Jeremiah Bull, founder of Hold ‘Em for Heroes and senior vice commander of LeRoy Hill American Legion Post 19 in Gardner, Kan.
Vincent Morales, co-founder of VCP and a member of Post 19, said, “America wants to give back, even more than just say thank you for your service. People want to help out veterans in a more robust way. And this is the power of it. This is the proof of it.”
And together, the American Legion Department of Indiana and state lawmakers helped homeless veterans statewide by creating 500 care packages filled with non-perishable food and toiletries. The Helping Our Hoosier Heroes Donation Drive brought Legion Family members from across the state to the fourth floor of the Indiana Statehouse to fill grocery bags with the 3,000 care items stacked on tables.
Thank you for your efforts to care for veterans living on the streets who need us, veterans who need a community that cares.