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Honouring Homeless Veterans!

Due to family obligations, Cyrus and I wandered in late.
There was controlled chaos everywhere.
Community everywhere.
People everywhere. 

The cafeteria was buzzing. It was packed. It was decorated. It was over-whelming. It was cold outside, but steaming inside.There must have been over 400 people crammed in, lined up and eager to get a plate of delicious food. There were boy scouts happily serving the dinner guests plates of chicken, ribs, potato salad, greens, buns and, quite frankly, the best bread pudding I'd ever tasted. Two bands provided some great live music and a couple of cute little sisters were given the microphone to proudly sing their ABCs. 

What made this night extra special was the attendance of two of the Tuskegee Airmen. These very respected African American heroes weathered cold temperatures to share a meal with hundreds of homeless people. They are both over 90 and told stories of their amazing flights. Even though they both had rank, an indisputable record and are modern day heroes, their stories were tainted by the reality of segregation and discrimination. During their Tour of Duty, the color of their skin deemed them ineligible to do many things that the lesser ranked white troops were able to do. They returned home to Chicago, not as heroes, but to live once again under that familiar yolk of Jim Crow and racism. It wasn't until many years later that they received the recognition they deserved.

Yet, despite all that, Welton Taylor and Julius Jackson do not live in bitterness. They were given a table of honour, yet they wandered around the cafeteria freely sharing both stories and warmth. They seemed to touch every life they bumped into. Col. Lt. Julius Jackson spoke to my 8 year old son Cyrus for a few minutes and offered him some wisdom. This 92 year old man's kind compassionate spirit shone through, as he shuffled around the room and through the masses meeting many of the residents, kids and boy scouts.

I came into the crowded cafeteria late and was asked to point out our homeless vets who had not yet been served. We honoured them by letting them know they didn't have to stand in the extremely long line, instead they were offered a seat at the table with the Tuskegee Airmen. Actually, most of them preferred not to be seated in the limelight and wanted to sit with everyone else, but were all thankful to dodge the line and be brought their special plates of food by the boy scouts. The vets loved it, our homeless population loved it and everyone who stepped into our humble cafeteria loved it. How do I know that? Because I've never had so many people personally thank me for putting on this great event. I felt a little guilty because I was getting the majority of the credit for something Karen, Sandy and others had tirelessly organized.

As I walked home from CCO, one part of me smiled and another part grieved. I could proudly proclaim the success of an event for people who deserved it, yet I was simultaneously saddened by the sickening reality that this country has so many and too many veterans that are homeless. Despite what we believe about the present wars in the Middle East or our philosophies on the rights and wrongs of war, weapons and military spending, every one of us should believe that homeless veterans deserve better. They served their country, they risked their lives and sometimes went on multiple tours, only to return home and try to cope with the feelings of rejection and alienation.

Let's face some facts; studies reveal some utterly horrendous statistics, where veterans lead the way in homelessness and suicides. This shouldn't be the case! I know too many without income, without support, without medical coverage and without a home. This needs to change! We can't drive around with "support our troops" bumper stickers, while despising the panhandling vet on the corner, yet that happens every day. We can't sing the praises of our active troops, while constantly ignoring the vet sleeping in the alley behind our homes, yet that happens every day. We can't justify billions of dollars launched into warfare and armament, while such a small percentage goes toward those returning home with life-changing physical, mental and emotional scars. We can't ignore and forget these men and women living under viaducts, in shelters and riding trains every night, they need to be remembered, respected and honoured. They need love!

My personal wish is that the Veteran's Administration got more money to use for housing, benefits, treatment and so forth. My experience with dealing with the VA thinks that they are overwhelmed by bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo and the shear mass of vets begging, pleading and crying for assistance. We cannot just leave it to them, we also need to accept responsibility and lift up, help out and embrace these men and women. We cannot just expect others to do it, we must reach into ourselves, cry out to the Lord and provide our brothers and sisters with what they're desperately seeking and needing!

There's a simple reason we decided to start this annual tradition; Jesus said, "as you have done it unto the least of these, you have done it unto Me!" Homeless veterans have sadly become this country's "least of these", and this is one of the ways we have decided to give them a little honour, respect and Jesus!

One Veteran's Day dinner, located in a humble little homeless shelter, on a cold November night, may seem like a small insignificant thing. It certainly does not solve the abundance of issues veterans face daily, but this celebration provided these "rejected" men and women with hope, compassion and love! And I gotta say, they all did have a wonderfully good time!

Comments

Anonymous said…
Saturday, December 31, 2011 - 02:01am EST
From: VonVictor Valentino Rosenchild
Founder & CEO VetClosure.com (Veterans Social Network)

With this being said, I am deeply concerned with the "quality of life" of all Veterans. Being a part of that 1% of the population that actually raise their right hand to defend this country, to protect U.S. National Security, and to protect the Freedoms of ALL Americans, it saddens me greatly to know that there is such a large percentage of Homeless (House-less) Veterans. To know that so many agencies and organizations shove Veterans into Single Room Occupancy (SRO) - Single Rooms instead of helping them get a house, something that is worthy of our country's respect for our Veterans.

I asked myself, what can I do to turn things around, and came to the realization that I can use my skill-set, my drive, motivation, determination, persistence, intelligence, innovative thinking, ethics, principles, values, morals, leadership skills, and professional interpersonal skills, to make a difference. Thus, I have created a Social Network for Veterans and their families, for the U.S. Federal Government, for State and Local Government agencies, and organizations, for Non-for-Profits, Not-for-Profits, Non-Governmental-Organizations, for Enterprise size corporations, for Small and Mid-Size Business (SMB), and for private citizens, all of which supports, hires, and values Veterans.

VetClosure.com is the name of this NEW (1st of its kind) Veterans Social Network (VSN). This idea came to me on the night of Friday, December 23, 2011 while I lay back on my bed and thought about various ways I could help ALL people, and then VetClosure.com came to me. A Social Network built for Veterans, their families and those that support them. VetClosure.com provides a platform for the Veterans to connect, and or stay connect to other Veterans across the country, and around the world. VetClosure.com provides a separate community for Veterans to share experiences, knowledge,and information, in addition to providing each other with advice/suggestions. In addition it is a rich resource of information pertaining to Veterans Programs, Veterans Assistance that may come in different forms as well.

VetClosure.com is not meant to replace Facebook, Twitter, or Google+, however, it will be as big as those. At VetClosure.com we use those Social Networks as well, however, there is an apparent need for a Veterans Social Network (VSN).

Although the platform that VetClosure.com is not robust enough to do the things I would like to do with the Social Network, it does provide a starting point. There is a lot of technology that I would like to add to this platform, in addition to some systems integration, API development, Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), etc.., I do not have the capital (Funding) for this yet. I have begun to create a fundraiser, in addition to seek the assistance from Venture Capitals (VC) like Google Ventures http://www.googleventures.com/ , Silicon Valley venture capitalists, Microsoft BizSpark http://www.microsoft.com/bizspark/newsandevents/Default.aspx ,
IBM Venture Capital Group http://www-304.ibm.com/businesscenter/venturedevelopment/us/en/ , etc...

I have the knowledge, skill-set and experience to build a much better Social Network platform however, lack the capital at this time. I have begun to engage the U.S. Veterans Administration (VA) and a few other U.S. Government agencies to present them with VetClosure (a Veterans Social Network - VSN).

I encourage you and all others that may read this post, to visit VetClosure.com and JOIN our Social Network, because you do not have to be a Veteran to join our Network, on a person that cares, and supports our Veterans. I ask that you donate, as much as you can, but please help this noble cause.

Kindest of regards,

VonVictor Valentino Rosenchild
Founder & CEO - VetClosure.com
Anonymous said…
Saturday, December 31, 2011 - 02:01am EST
From: VonVictor Valentino Rosenchild
Founder & CEO VetClosure.com (Veterans Social Network)

Although this article is a few years old, I am compiled to respond to it. I am a Veteran - United States Navy (USN) 11 years in the field of Cryptology and Intelligence.

With this being said, I am deeply concerned with the "quality of life" of all Veterans. Being a part of that 1% of the population that actually raise their right hand to defend this country, to protect U.S. National Security, and to protect the Freedoms of ALL Americans, it saddens me greatly to know that there is such a large percentage of Homeless (House-less) Veterans. To know that so many agencies and organizations shove Veterans into Single Room Occupancy (SRO) - Single Rooms instead of helping them get a house, something that is worthy of our country's respect for our Veterans.

There is more than enough land in the United States, to give everyone a real house, not an apartment, not a room (SRO) but a house. There is more than enough food in the United States for everyone here.

To know that there are so many Veterans homeless and more going homeless (house-less) each day is a shame, it is a deep shameful stain on the American flag.

I asked myself, what can I do to turn things around, and came to the realization that I can use my skill-set, my drive, motivation, determination, persistence, intelligence, innovative thinking, ethics, principles, values, morals, leadership skills, and professional interpersonal skills, to make a difference. Thus, I have created a Social Network for Veterans and their families, for the U.S. Federal Government, for State and Local Government agencies, and organizations, for Non-for-Profits, Not-for-Profits, Non-Governmental-Organizations, for Enterprise size corporations, for Small and Mid-Size Business (SMB), and for private citizens, all of which supports, hires, and values Veterans.

VetClosure.com is the name of this NEW (1st of its kind) Veterans Social Network (VSN).

VetClosure.com is not meant to replace Facebook, Twitter, or Google+, however, it will be as big as those. At VetClosure.com we use those Social Networks as well, however, there is an apparent need for a Veterans Social Network (VSN).

Although the platform that VetClosure.com is not robust enough to do the things I would like to do with the Social Network, it does provide a starting point. There is a lot of technology that I would like to add to this platform, in addition to some systems integration, API development, Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), etc.., I do not have the capital (Funding) for this yet. I have begun to create a fundraiser, in addition to seek the assistance from Venture Capitals (VC) like Google Ventures http://www.googleventures.com/ , Silicon Valley venture capitalists, Microsoft BizSpark http://www.microsoft.com/bizspark/newsandevents/Default.aspx ,
IBM Venture Capital Group http://www-304.ibm.com/businesscenter/venturedevelopment/us/en/ , etc...

I am also asking all those that would be so kind and understanding for donations to help make this more than it currently is, to make it grow, and have the capabilities that Veterans and their families need and want.

I have the knowledge, skill-set and experience to build a much better Social Network platform however, lack the capital at this time. I have begun to engage the U.S. Veterans Administration (VA) and a few other U.S. Government agencies to present them with VetClosure (a Veterans Social Network - VSN).

I encourage you and all others that may read this post, to visit VetClosure.com and JOIN our Social Network, because you do not have to be a Veteran to join our Network, on a person that cares, and supports our Veterans. I ask that you donate, as much as you can, but please help this noble cause.

Kindest of regards,

VonVictor Valentino Rosenchild
Founder & CEO - VetClosure.com

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