By Debbie Gregory.
To demonstrate their commitment to veterans, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the United States of America (BPO Elks) announced that it has committed $4 million, over a 4-year period, to help end Veteran homelessness.
While the organization is committed to the mission, “So long as there are veterans, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks will never forget them,” the Elks’ Veterans Service Commission, established in 1946, takes that pledge one step further. In VA clinics, veterans’ homes, USOs, homeless shelters and more, thousands of Elks volunteers give generously of their time, energy and resources to serve veterans and military members each year. Just this year alone, approximately 1,300 Elks members volunteered more than 117,000 hours of service at VA facilities nationwide.
Now, in their quest to end veteran homelessness, the Elks have joined forces with the Veterans Administration (VA) to launch pilot programs in Washington DC, Chicago and New York City. In addition, the organization is calling on the group’s 800,000 members across the country to support efforts to support homeless Veterans in their communities. In this fiscal year alone, approximately 1,300 Elks members volunteered more than 117,000 hours of service at VA facilities nationwide.
“We’re so excited about partnering with the Elks on this important issue impacting far too many Veterans,” said VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald. “As we move closer to our goal of ending Veteran homelessness, partnerships like these will be critical to ensuring that all Veterans have access to safe and affordable housing.”
“Our goal is to provide the tools and support necessary for homeless Veterans to transition successfully into healthier and more stable lives,” said Mary Morgan, Director of the Elks National Veterans Service Commission. “Most Americans agree that Veteran homelessness should not exist, but few people know how they can help.”
Many Elks lodges partner with a local VA Medical Center or Stand Down organization to give homeless vets a place to receive food, clothing, hygiene supplies, medical checkups and counseling.
Elks provide school supplies for veterans’ children, and help families with car repairs, employment searches and job training. Additional Elks projects include: ramps and stair lifts, rental and utility assistance, backpacks of survival gear for homeless vets, dental services, bus passes and laptop computers to disabled vets.