Veterans Matter!

Sergeant Kevin and his men in the "re-appropriated" abandoned house in Flint, MI.

Sergeant Kevin and his men in the “re-appropriated” abandoned house in Flint, MI.

Veterans Matter has a black ops-like mission that’s pretty simple: House as many unhoused veterans and veteran families as we can, as fast as we can.

The idea was formed during a conversation between 1Matters founder Ken Leslie and the director of the Healthcare for Homeless Veterans program of VISN-11 (the Northwest Ohio/Southeast Michigan division of the VA), Shawn Dowling. When Shawn told Ken about the VASH vouchers and the work her team was doing, Ken asked her what was missing for more veterans to take advantage of all the vouchers available for the area. Shawn said that virtually none of the unhoused veterans had the money for the first month’s rent and security deposit (go figure). Ken asked, “That’s it? That’s all that’s in the way of more veterans getting off the streets? Let me make a few calls.”

The first call he made was to a friend, Barb Petee, telling her about the issue and asking her what ProMedica might be interested in doing. Seven days later on Valentine’s Day, the ProMedica Advocacy Fund, through the Toledo Community Foundation, granted 1Matters with the $26,250 estimated to be needed for matching to the 35 vouchers allotted to the VISN-11 area. Shawn’s team sent over the first veteran family, which was approved and the first check cut to the landlord. Within 11 days, from concept to implementation, Veterans Matter was born. Veterans Matter has reduced the time to get housed from 131 days to 72 days. That means our brave men and women veterans, and fairly often their spouses and/or children, have to wait almost two months less to get home.

Dusty Hill with veterans

Dusty Hill with some of the veterans helped by Veterans Matter. One of them said, “It’s been tough, for a long time. And then all of a sudden, you can see a light at the end of the tunnel.”

A couple of our amazing board members are in the music industry, and one of them got ZZ Top to agree to film a PSA while they were in Detroit for a concert in June. When Dusty Hill of ZZ Top heard what the PSA was about, he and his wife immediately got excited about the program. Another strong relationship with a music legend was created, and the Hills stayed in touch with us. It wasn’t long until they were talking about starting a Veterans Matter chapter in their hometown of Houston and to date it has housed 56 Houston veterans.

Since then a new chapter in New England was formed and several others in process.   This video lets you know  the impact, in their own words.

We’re taking care of our own, 1 by 1. Let’s keep rolling!

For complete information on how to start one in your community, visit Veteransmatter.org