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Veterans and Homelessness

By Tanya Braken

On November 11 Americans celebrated and gave thanks for the sacrifices that our Veteran’s have made to keep our country free and safe.  But are you aware that many of our Veterans are still paying for the sacrifices that they made for you and me?  Did you know that according to a recent report by the Homelessness Research Institute, Veterans make up a disproportionate share of homeless people?  More than 25 percent of the homeless population in the United States are military veterans, although they represent only 11 percent of the civilian adult population. On any given night last year, nearly 196,000 veterans slept on the street, in a shelter or in transitional housing. This is true despite the fact that veterans are better educated, more likely to be employed and have a lower poverty rate than the general population.

I know that it is easy to walk around the issue of homelessness and indeed, the homeless themselves and not “see” the problem.  No one wants to get close enough to them to even look in their eyes let alone take the time to hear their stories—where they have come from and how they got to where they are.  They are seen as people as “less worth”, derelicts, or criminals. 

I am offering you an opportunity to see them as more—to discover that that person you ignore, walk around and find to be an “inconvenience” may very well be a person—a Veteran--who you just honored in your community, your work place, and in your church.  On December 10, Shenkel UCC will be the first to host this year’s local mobile shelter run by St. John’s Lutheran Church’s Ministries at Main Street.  We are in urgent need of people to stay up at night in the church and watch over the homeless while they sleep as well as volunteers willing to transport them to and from Shenkel.  You may volunteer for just one night or many nights depending on your availability.  Contact Tanya Bracken at (610) 823-9429 or for more information or to volunteer to help. 

And Jesus said to them, “…I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.”  (Matthew 25:45)

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