My name is Cheryl Jones, Founder/CEO of the American Homeless Families Foundation, a registered nonprofit organization in the State of Texas. Saving Our Veterans in Texas and Florida. These 2 states are on the top 5 list of states with the highest homeless veterans population.
Not only do we supply housing and food, we also give financial assistance to veterans who are in need of paying their co-pay payments at the VA. As of March 24, 2014, all veterans must pay up to 20% of their medical bills that are not part of their service-connected injuries, such as colds, flu, broken bones, high blood pressure, colonoscopy, pap smears, prostate examines, diabetes, gout, cancer, Alzheimers, regular check ups, and so on. Anything that does not have a direct connection to the veterans service-connected injury. The majority of veterans are unable to work, therefore, the spouse works to pay the household bills. Many spouses must work 2 or 3 jobs to pay all the bills. To add the burden of up to 20% co-pay payments to the list of bills, harms the family and puts these veterans and their families at-risk-of-homelessness. Veterans do not get a discount on the co-pays unless their total household income (including spouse and dependent income) is below the VA Income Threshold. Which is well below the IRS poverty line.
Therefore, it is necessary for AHFF to financially assist these veterans with their co-pay payments, in order to keep the family from losing their homes and becoming homeless.
The VA Medical Scandal
As a child, my grandmother housed and cared for World War II and Korean War Veterans. Up to 20 veterans at a time. She cared for them 24/7/365 for the rest of their lives. Sometimes she would take me with her and the veterans to the VA hospital. I saw how they were treated back then (50 years ago). I have come to the conclusion that nothing has changed.
You have seen it all over the news. Veterans die while waiting for their doctors appointment. Wait times of up to 2 months. A veteran, who’s name I will not disclose, that I know personally, had moved from Gulfport, Mississippi, in the first week of October, 2013. He immediately applied for his transfer to the new state, which is one of the top VA Medical Centers in the US. And asked to see his new primary care physician because he had urgent medical problems that were not addressed in Gulfport for over 2 1/2 years.
During the last week of April, 2014, I took this veteran, who has extensive medical problems, to the VA emergency room. With me present in the room, the emergency room doctor said “We cannot do anything for you! You will have to wait for your doctors appointment!” His appointment had not been scheduled yet, he had already been waiting 6 1/2 months. After I saw how this veteran was treated, I made a phone call to the VA Medical Center’s Director of Administrations and spoke about my urgent concerns about this veteran. Less then 5 minutes later, the veteran received a phone call from his primary care physician’s office. All of a sudden, he had an appointment in 2 weeks. He was baffled by the urgency in the person’s voice that called him from the doctor’s office. So, he called me to tell me what had just happened. I told him that “I had made a call to the Director of Administrations just 10 minutes ago”.
On the day of his first primary care doctors appointment, it had now been 7 months (30 weeks/210 days), he never saw his doctor only the nurse. The veteran did not see his doctor for another 2 months, which is 9 months (39 weeks/270 days), to actually see his primary care physician for the first time.
During the visit at the VA emergency room I met a veteran that had a cast on his leg. Around the top and bottom of the cast was obviously green mold. So, I asked the veteran “How long ago did you break your leg?” He said “I didn’t break it. It was just a bad sprain! They put this cast on 5 months ago and I was supposed to get it off after 4 to 6 weeks! But I can’t get a doctor’s appointment, so I decided to come to the emergency room. I’m not leaving till they take it off!”
USA Today wrote a report about the VA Scandal 3 days ago, you can read it here
Knowing what I know about the VA, I see how veterans end up on the streets of our great nation. So, I take it upon myself to help veterans. I have found that this is one of my passions in life. We all have passions and we should act on our passions. Acting on our passions gives us purpose and happiness. Isn’t that what life is about?
Wounded Homeless Veterans
As a widow of a veteran, I find this appalling. These brave men and women fought for the very freedoms that have been taken away from them. The freedoms of Life, Liberty and The Pursuit of Happiness. As I walk through the streets, I see disparage on their faces and pain in their eyes. As they beg for help, people ignore them as though they are a disposable subhuman species. Yet, they stand there with patriotism in their hearts, in hopes that some day people will see them as a person not an animal. Wounded physically and mentally by the dishonor, submerged in desperation to survive with no food or shelter.
The Veterans Administration 2013 Report
There are 57,849 Homeless Veterans, 45,170 Wounded Veterans, and 6,251 Soldiers Killed In Action. Over 800,000 veterans have applied for disability. 466,877 veterans are at-risk-of-homelessness.
US Census Report December 2013
US Census reports that there are 310,750,000 people in the United States. With an adult population of 225,915,250. The Conference of Mayors in December 2013, stated that the annual Point-In-Time Count of Homeless People reported a total of 610,042 homeless nationwide with an estimated 25% are veterans.
The US Conference of Mayors, December 2013, Hunger and Homelessness Survey, of the 25 largest cities in the US, reports the total number of homeless individuals increasing over 52% over the past year, according to the survey. There has been a 40% increase in Los Angeles, and a 24% increase in Dallas, just to name a few. The survey notes that homelessness goes hand-in-hand with hunger. The impact of cuts in SNAP benefits and the inability of food assistance programs to meet the increased demand that result from these cuts where pointed out as the biggest challenge in addressing hunger in the coming year by most cities.
The Forgotten Veteran
With the sight of more and more veterans on the streets of America, and noting these 2 reports, combined with my experiences of the VA, it is obvious that our veterans are “The Forgotten”. Used during wartime, then thrust into the streets by our own government. Abused and kicked in the teeth by their own people. The forgotten veteran, left on the streets, to die alone with no hope.
Helping Our Veterans
The American Homeless Families Foundation is committed to “Saving Our Veterans”. Renovating empty foreclosed homes, to move-in readiness. Fully stocked with food, cooking and storage utensils, hygiene products, toiletries, bedding, linen, furniture, appliances, tv, phone and internet. We are giving back the freedoms to the men and women that fought for our freedoms. It is a great honor to lift these courageous veterans up, give them the necessities of life and the opportunity to a rewarding self sustaining lifestyle.
Yet, we do not stop at housing and feeding our veterans. When we find a veteran that needs immediate medical care, we act upon that need. We do not stand around and say “Oh Well!” That’s because “We Care!”
Saving Our Veterans
American people have always come together to help people in need, family, friends, neighbors and even strangers. Through our joint efforts, we are coming together to “Save Our Veterans!”
Since 2008 there have been 4.9 million homes foreclosed. With a foreclosure rate still at 45,000 a month. The inventory of foreclosed homes from the last 12 months, over 540,000, we could literally house all the homeless people on the streets. By renovating empty foreclosed homes, which are deteriorating, we save the lives of veterans and rebuild our communities. Strengthening our path to rebuilding America!
Please share our campaign with all your friends and family!
Together we are changing the lives of our wounded homeless forgotten veterans!
To All Veterans
“We THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE!”
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Other organizations helping veterans
Wounded Warrior Project
National Coalition For Homeless Veterans
Veterans Affairs Website