Since the advent of the Arab Spring, when a revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests toppling governments in the Arab world began in 2010, it seems as if the world has been on the move, causing homelessness and population displacements the world over. American men and women in uniform have witnessed the shifting sands of these overseas economic, political and social systems, up close and personally. Where do you go for help if you yourself are a homeless Veteran in America? In November 2009, the Veterans Administration (VA) announced a plan to end homelessness among Veterans within five years -- while those efforts continue; the numbers of homeless Veterans remain steady, and are increasing among women.
The Department of Veterans Affairs reports that in Missouri there are presently about 13,549 homeless Veterans. About one-third of adult homeless men and nearly one-quarter of all homeless adults living on America's streets have served in the Military. Both male and female veterans have been overrepresented in the homeless population, and as the number of veterans increases due conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, there is concern that the number of homeless veterans could rise. The recent economic downturn also has raised concerns that homelessness could increase among all groups, including Veterans. In the Kansas City Metro area alone it is estimated there are over 2400 veterans who are homeless, many suffering from mental illness, alcohol or drug abuse issues.
The Veteran's Administration aptly serves the needs of Veterans with several programs focusing on education, health care, temporary residential and related services. However, less than a majority of eligible Veterans take advantage of these services. Many more, according to the VA, are considered at-risk because of poverty, lack of support from family and friends and precarious living conditions in overcrowded or substandard housing.
Filling the resources gap for in Kansas City Metro area are several organizations focusing on providing services to Veterans in-need. Included in this formidable resource base is Casa Vet, a 501(c)(3) service organization. Casa Vet's goal is to serve all homeless Veterans, in particular female Veterans and/or Veterans with families by providing viable housing solutions. Targeted services by Casa Vet include Temporary - short term housing lasting 30 to 90 days. During this time the goal is to help stabilize the Veteran with assistance from other agencies and prepare the Veteran for independent living arrangements, which may be transitional or permanent housing; Transitional - Housing occupied up to 2 years and will utilize the aforementioned programs to foster independent living; and Permanent - Affordable housing that continues to foster "autonomous living" which can have an indefinite timeframe.
How can you help?
According to Jessica Brown, Casa Vet's energetic Executive Director, and operating on individual contributions, Casa Vet takes homes, many in need of repair, and improves them, and then provides a variety of shelter arrangements to homeless Veterans. One such donation involved Raytown High and Central Missouri University graduate CB Toney, a veteran State Department Foreign Service employee currently assigned to the United States Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. I learned about the excellent work Jessica at Casa Vet is undertaking from my contacts from Habitat for Humanity, said CB Toney. Growing-
While touring the Casa Vet's programs during a recent visit to Kansas City, Toney wanted to do something to support their worthwhile efforts. Working with the Military everyday throughout Afghanistan, I’m familiar with the sacrifices made by a truly dedicated group of Americans -- so I donated my home in Kansas City, located a couple of blocks from a foster home I lived in during the 1970’s, in support of what I consider true American heroes. In addition to the house, he also pledged a sizable cash donation, in support to the rebuilding efforts. Several groups and organizations receive homes, which is great, but unfortunately lack the liquid cash assets to immediately make repairs for occupancy, said Toney. The end result is service organizations have a glut of real estate on-hand without the wherewithal to make improvements, putting them in a disadvantage in servicing the targeted populations. Putting a finer point on it, CB said that I would strongly urge those that can donate not only homes but also cash to groups like Casa Vet -- these groups exist to ensure women, men and children in crises, living on the streets of our neighborhoods, receive the resources needed to reintegrate into the overall population, thereby stabilizing communities and improving their lives and circumstances, in the process. The populations we are talking about today are men and women (many with children) who faithfully serve our grateful nation in order for all of us to maintain and further the freedoms we enjoy -- I cannot think of a more noble cause than supporting Veterans, seniors and children.
Living in Afghanistan, almost 10,000 miles from Kansas City, I wasn't sure about how the donation mechanism would work. My worries were quickly dispelled as my Sister-in-law and long-standing friend Dianne Maddox prepared the property and the leadership at Casa Vet expertly arranged for seamless transfer of title. Working out the details and using a quit-claim deed, which took about 15 minutes, I deeded the property over to Casa Vet. The county provided the property value assessment figure -- using that figure and a receipt, the donation, with cash, was complete. It was just that easy.
I've had the good fortune of serving our country as a member of the Foreign Service of over a quarter of a century, said Toney. It's been an amazing career, seeing the world (over 100 counties to date), and making a difference; working with a purpose -- I would highly recommend that the youth of Missouri and Kansas seek employment with foreign affairs agencies such as the State Department (visit the following website http://careers.state.gov/
For Information about resources for Veterans
How to donate to Casa Vet?
Casa Vet accepts "Donations" to fulfill our mission through 'Time', 'Talent' and 'Treasure'.
Time - Donate your time by volunteering to assist in our organization's efforts. Please contact our office for a schedule of openings.
Talent - Everyone has a talent or personal gift. Examples may include office organization/
Treasure* - This is often in reference to money (i.e. cash, check or credit card) and/or property (i.e. physical items, land or property). Your welcome contribution will help provide solutions and further assist our mission in the battle against homelessness.
*All gifts are tax deductible.
For additional questions, please contact our office below.
Casa Vet Institute, Inc. (CVI)
(816) 471-4673 ext. 114
Fax: (866) 328-9009