"We have made great progress over the past few years because of leaders... who refuse to accept veteran homelessness as a fact of life. And now we have to finish the job once and for all, because when a veteran comes home kissing the ground, it is unacceptable that he should ever have to sleep on it." - First Lady Michelle Obama, June 4, 2014
On June 4th last year, First Lady Michelle Obama stepped forward to announce the Obama administration's Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness. With 58,000 homeless veterans (.3% of the total veteran population) spread out across the U.S., she argued, this number could and should be brought down to zero by the end of 2015. At the time, Ms. Obama had 77 mayors, four governors and four county officials on board. Today, those numbers have grown to include 585 mayors, 8 governors and 152 county and city officials and unlike much of the news coming out these days concerning veteran affairs, the forecast regarding veteran homelessness is looking good.
This past January, New Orleans became the first city in the U.S. to announce victory in the war on veteran homelessness. All across the country states are improving, in part thanks to the 300% increase in spending on homeless vets that has occurred during President Obama's tenure as president. The result: homelessness amongst veterans has decreased by about a third since 2010.
In 2013, 3 Generations interviewed Lisa Pape, the National Director of Homeless & Residential Rehab Treatment Programs at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, as part of our Clinton Global Initiative commitment to action. Last month, President Obama renewed his commitment to veterans stating, "We stand by our pledge. We are going to keep at it until every veteran who has fought for America has a place to call home in America." In light of the renewal of his pledge, we aim to renew ours. We're thrilled to be able to share our interview with Ms. Pape, now the National Director of Homeless Programs for the Veterans Health Administration, with you and hope that her words will inspire you to take action on homelessness among veterans as well. Watch her interview here and check out the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's page on the Mayors Challenge to see what you can do to end veteran homelessness.
As always, 3 Generations depends on the support of people like you. Your contributions help us produce videos like Lisa Pape's, which serve to educate the public on issues facing America's veterans. Please consider donating today.
Sources: NPR and The New York Times