Veterans Day: Veterans’ Employment and Housing Nonprofits
According to DoSomething.org, the unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans is 6.2%, or a full 1.2% higher than the national average for the overall population. And in another estimate cited by the same website, roughly 50% of veterans suffer from some form of mental health issue such as PTSD, which may make it even more difficult to hold down a job. Despite the tremendous sacrifices veterans have made for our country, they continue to suffer disproportionately high rates of homelessness, drug and alcohol addiction, mental health issues, and unemployment. We put together a list highlighting some of the most startling statistics:
- The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans estimates that about 11% of the homeless population is made up of veterans.
- Roughly 1.4 million veterans are considered at risk of becoming homeless because of poverty, lack of support networks, and substandard living conditions.
- According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 495,000 unemployed veterans in 2015.
- Of this group, 57% were 45 years old or more, 37% were between the ages of 25 and 44, and 5% were between 18 and 24.
It can be difficult to acknowledge that a group of people who have sacrificed so much for our well-being is disproportionately vulnerable to these types of threats to their own mental and physical health. After experiencing the trauma of war and facing the challenge of readjusting to civilian life, it’s no wonder that veterans need some extra help from caring members of the community. This Veterans Day, let’s take a few moments to honor those who served our country by giving time, money, or even just some attention to the veterans’ nonprofits in our communities. Great Nonprofits has highlighted some outstanding nonprofits around the country that are helping our servicepeople adjust to life back home:
Helping Veterans Start New Businesses
The Jonas Project in Long Beach, California
The Jonas Project aims to create jobs by helping veterans start new businesses. It provides veterans with mentoring services, staff support, and financial assistance, and also helps clients locate other outside funding sources for their businesses. One volunteer wrote: “The Jonas project does more than just provide financial assistance. . . . They help build dreams! These dreams are in the form of businesses that stimulate the economy and give back to those who have sacrificed so much for this country.” A veteran who was served by the Jonas Project praised its ability to “give vets the tools needed to begin their journey to success, from [help with] intricate business plans to pro forma income statements,” mapping out “a grid that is necessary for all businesses.” Although the Jonas Project is based in Long Beach, it helps veterans all over the country start and finance their own businesses. According to Entrepreneur.com, 2.4 million businesses, or around 9% of all firms, are veteran-owned. By encouraging more vets to become business owners, the Jonas Project is helping the economy and tackling the issue of veteran unemployment at the same time.
Creating Functional Living Spaces for Wounded Veterans
Purple Heart Homes in Statesville, North Carolina
Purple Heart Homes provides housing modifications or new homes to service-connected disabled veterans and their families. These housing solutions can include the remodeling of an existing home that the veteran already owns, or the creation of an entire living space from scratch. The mission of Purple Heart Homes is to accommodate wounded or disabled veterans’ specific injuries by creating barrier-free living environments for the clients it serves. One veteran who could not walk had been living without a ramp in his house for almost eight months. He had this particularly inspirational story to tell: “Two days ago I had a ramp built connecting me with the outside world. I can now get to my doctor and therapy appointments and do not worry how I will get out of the house if there is a fire. These volunteers came and worked 10 hours the first day. The second day they worked 15 hours into the darkness just to finish this ramp. The first time I strolled down [it] was like a dream come true.”
Providing Housing and Employment Services to Veterans in Need
Veterans Leadership Program of Western Pennsylvania in Pittsburgh
The Pennsylvania-based nonprofit Veterans Leadership Program is committed to providing essential housing, employment, and support services to veterans who need help building a more sustainable, self-sufficient life. One client praised how the program helped him with rent, moving expenses, furniture, looking for jobs, and took care of vision and health insurance needs. The organization has assisted more than 2,100 veterans and service members directly through its employment program, and referred more than 5,000 to other programs for essential services. Another client recalls a period when he was living in an abandoned house without any form of income or access to social services: “I survived the wind and cold and . . . slowly fell into a deep depression. In March 2013 someone told me about VPL. . . . I never knew I could feel so cared about. [The volunteer] he set me up with” helped resolve the veteran’s ongoing mental health issues, and another volunteer continues to check in on him and keep him on track to this day.
With the special challenges veterans face finding employment and housing, including the possibility of physical disabilities, mental health issues, issues with substance abuse or PTSD, and a whole host of other hurdles related to adjusting from life in a war zone, veterans’ nonprofits provide a vital service to their clients and to our country as a whole. This Veterans Day, consider sharing this page to raise awareness about the employment and housing issues faced by veterans, or look into a nonprofit in your community that is serving our military families! GreatNonprofits.org compiled a list of our Top Veterans Nonprofits, organizations that are giving back to a group of people who have given so much.