Operation: Warm Hearts

In urgent response to the plight faced by many veterans, Veterans Forever Soldiers launched Operation Warm Hearts as the means in which to carry out its work.  The purpose of Operation Warm Hearts is to provide veterans with immediate basic needs items.  OPW is a year-round outreach effort designed to respond directly to the needs of veterans who are hungry or homeless.  Throughout the years, families, friends and supporters of veterans have donated money, food, clothes, blankets, sleeping bags, gift cards, personal hygiene items, time, talents and advice. Also, wholistic-based workshops, Healthy Mind, Healthy Body, Healthy Spirit, focus on topics such as healthy lifestyles, smoking cessation, family preservation, stress management, aromatherapy, dressing for success, budgeting and finance, food and nutrition. OPW endeavors to ensure that no veteran is ever hungry or lacking in basic means. 

Our work is made possible and can only continue with your support.  Let us do more.  Please continue to support us in our mission to be an effective source of help for our friends and families – our veterans.

Problem Overview

Detrimental issues facing veterans precede the Vietnam era. Since 9/11/01, over 2.4 million American soldiers have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hundreds of thousands of veterans have returned with higher rates of physical injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury, often compounded by multiple deployments. Female veterans have high risk of PTSD due to military sexual trauma (MST). For male and female veterans, PTSD is linked to an increased risk of depression and substance abuse, which exacerbate social isolation and make employment and reintegration into post-military life difficult. Following are additional hard facts and hard reality topics:

  1. In just one night, 49,933 homeless veterans were counted across the U.S.; an estimated 1.5 million others are at risk of becoming homeless. http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/press/press_releases_media_advisories/2014/HUDNo_14-103
  2. 67% veterans have served three or more years. http://nbstanddown.org/facts-and-stats/
  3. An estimated 20,000 violent sex crimes were committed in the military in 2011. About 80% go unreported. MST is a prime indicator for PTSD. http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2012/07/09/Reported-violent-sex-crimes-up-in-military/UPI-60831341881720/ph
  4. 76% veterans experience alcohol, drug or mental health problems. http://www.nationalhomeless.org/factsheets/veterans.html
  5. More than 968,000 veterans ages 18 to 64 had been in poverty in 2010. http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?r112:E29NO2-0010:
  6. Among veterans, female and family homelessness are steadily increasing. http://homeless.samhsa.gov/resource/veterans-experiencing-homelessness-48809.aspx
  7. Veterans are far more at risk of becoming homeless than non-vets. http://www.military.com/NewsContent/0,13319,139317,00.html
  8. The Veterans Crisis Line has answered more than 890,000 calls and made more than 30,000 life-saving rescues since its launch in 2007. http://www.pbs.org/coming-back-with-wes-moore/about/facts/
  9. 22 military veterans commit suicide every day.  http://www.pbs.org/coming-back-with-wes-moore/about/facts/
  10. Every month nearly 1,000 veterans attempt to take their own lives. That’s more than one attempt every half hour.  http://www.pbs.org/coming-back-with-wes-moore/about/facts/

Those We Serve

For many veterans, the road home leads to homelessness and despair. One homeless veteran, one veteran challenged with posttraumatic stress, alcohol or substance abuse, or one veteran family unit left dysfunctional due to these factors is one too many. These focused issues are ongoing problems in a post-military society. To be an effective source of help, Veterans Forever Soldiers’ programs assist with the dignified rehabilitation and reintegration of veterans, providing the fundamentals necessary for productive living and overall well-being. Through outreach activities and workshops, veterans move from the entrapment of homelessness, PTSD and related issues to the freedom of joyful and sober living, stable employment and permanent housing.

A Call To Action: Together We Honor and Give Back To Those Who Have Served Us

VFS-AD3

The Washington, DC Metropolitan Area homeless veterans count is in the thousands. In anticipation of many homecoming veterans who will need specialized attention, it is imperative to have systems in place that can effectively deliver direct, quality services to meet their needs. Veterans Forever Soldiers encourages community partnership in establishing an ideal, centralized location where homeless veterans, and those at risk of becoming homeless, can enter and receive a degree of comfort during the day. Such partnership must offer the following services:

  • Crisis intervention
  • Peer support
  • Warm meals
  • Clean clothes
  • Job preparation
  • Access to healthcare
  • Housing assistance