Last week, the staff of Disabled Veterans National Foundation had the opportunity to go to Boston and visit the New England Center for Homeless Veterans (NECHV). As long time partners, DVNF and NECHV have teamed up to help hundreds of veterans in need in the New England area.
DVNF recently supplied the shelter with many items such as clothing, snack food, soap, lotion and many other needed items. These items are crucial to the wellbeing of these veterans, as well as to the success of the center.
NECHV is a wonderful organization that helps homeless veterans get back on their feet. Many of these veterans have endured difficult post-military lives coping with poverty, family issues, mental health problems and substance abuse. Among the veterans we visited, a few were eager to talk with DVNF.
Grady, an Army veteran and former resident of the shelter, is now an employee, giving back to the veterans that he can empathize with. A big part of Grady’s job is to make sure that the veterans at the center fully utilize the clothing store*, which DVNF has helped to keep stocked over the years.
(*It should be noted that the “clothing store” is what NECHV calls their supply of items that are given to the veterans at the shelter.)
“When veterans walk into the store, they are always grateful for the items that DVNF has been able to send,” Grady told us. “Without these items, many of them would not have clothes to wear. No veteran should be left behind.”
Grady also said that he believes every veteran should have a place to rest his head at night and is thankful that he has the opportunity to show veterans that there is a safe place for them.
Another veteran we spoke with was Jamie. Jamie is an honorably discharged U.S Navy Veteran who is currently a resident at NECHV. Throughout the last couple of years he has overcome many obstacles such as two surgeries, a divorce and alcohol addiction. When asked about his time at the center, he replied, “The center has created a sparkle in my heart. When I came in, I knew something special was here.”
During his stay at the center, Jamie has created a job for himself. He works in the shelter’s clothing store and sorts the items that are delivered. When he is in the clothing store, he said that he gets to see the expressions on other veterans’ faces, and that they are so thankful for the items DVNF sent. Not only was he appreciative of the items DVNF was able to send, but was also happy we were able to come to the center and speak with everyone.
One of the last veterans we spoke with was Richard. Richard is an honorably discharged Vietnam veteran and is a current resident at the Center. After serving in the Vietnam War Richard mentioned that he provided services to help other veterans, such as working with local offices.
Richard also expressed his gratitude for the items that DVNF has been able to send. He told us that when he shops at the Center’s store, everyone is so excited about the items and it gives veterans a boost of self-esteem.
These are just a few of the great people we were able to speak with at NECHV. Understandably, there were many more veterans who were not as comfortable with us telling their stories as Grady, Jamie and Richard. These individuals have led difficult lives. It is hard to really understand unless you have experienced it.
When you meet veterans like Grady, everyone should take comfort in knowing that this individual–once a soldier, turned homeless–was able to overcome the greatest of odds. He could have left the shelter and moved on with his life, but instead, he chose to make a living serving the people whose difficulties he understands.
Though DVNF is always committed to serving veterans, opportunities like these, to spend time in a veteran’s world and hear of his triumphs and tragedies, are truly humbling experiences.
This is a great example that shows how your support can be paid forward exponentially!