Veteran’s Day event shines light on issues faced by veterans

Students from Grand Rapids Montessori gathered to recognize the sacrifices, courage, and patriotism of the men and women who have served our nation and learn about the challenges that some veterans in Kent County face every day.

Heart of West Michigan United Way and the American Legion Northeastern Post #459 Family coordinated an opportunity for students to hear from veterans of World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and Operation Iraqi Freedom. After the presentations, students learned about veteran homelessness and its impact on Kent County through a presentation by Jeffery King of Community Rebuilders. Together, they also wrote thank you cards and put together care packages for newly-housed veterans. 

Community Rebuilders has a successful track record of helping people experiencing homelessness in Kent County find safe, affordable housing. In 2015, Community Rebuilders helped 818 house-holds move out of homelessness and into housing. They began leading the local effort to end Veteran Homelessness last year and identified 479 homeless veterans in Kent County. To date, 87% of those veterans are no longer homeless. There are currently 50 veteran households remaining homeless in Kent County.

Veterans and their families often find it difficult and time-consuming to navigate the benefit systems available to them from various agencies and government offices which may lead to crises situations. Heart of West Michigan United Way’s 2-1-1 social services hotline makes it easy for veterans to learn what services they qualify for, where to go, and how to access the benefits that they have earned.

By simply dialing 2-1-1 (or 1-800-887-1107 from outside of the county) or downloading the new Kent 211 app, operators can connect any veteran of any branch of service or any member of their family to hundreds of benefits including case management, basic needs, military family services, veterans assistance, and much more.

Today’s partners included: Heart of West Michigan United Way; Community Rebuilders; Michigan Nonprofit Association AmeriCorps VISTA program; American Legion Northeastern Post #459 Family: Veterans in Community Classrooms; and Grand Rapids Public Schools