This month marks the one year anniversary of Soldiers Helping Soldiers volunteer activities in the National Capital Region, as well as the start up of three Regional offshoots (Montreal, Valcartier and Calgary). We have grown from supporting two local soup kitchens to a total of five local agencies and formed a strong alliance with the Ottawa Police Services and Military Family Resource Centre. All told, we have established our self as a formidable presence identifying over 100 CF and allied veterans in the National Capital Region, with 60 choosing to complete the paperwork and 17 plus no longer living on the street.
This achievement, like all successes, is the work of a team. The hardworking and dedicated Soldiers Helping Soldiers volunteers do everything from preparing and serving meals, massive cleaning projects, joint community service ventures such as Clean Up the Capital, packaging up food stuffs at the food bank, performing police walk along patrols, assisting at the drop in centre, attending meetings, designing leaflets and web pages, offering a listening ear and encouraging words and, most importantly, assisting in completing Royal Canadian Legion and Veterans Affairs paperwork.
I am constantly in awe of what the volunteers do and accomplish. Not just with the homeless and nearly homeless veterans, but with all the clients. Their compassion and willingness to work hard reach out to everyone we meet and move this initiative forward through hard work, determination, sacrifice of their own time and complete dedication. This exemplifies what makes a Canadian Armed Forces soldier and Department of National Defence employee truly the best in the world. I could not be prouder of all our volunteers have accomplished and wait to be inspired anew by their initiative and successes.
Soldiers Helping Soldiers continues to grow and attract new partners in our efforts to find homeless and nearly homeless veterans, such as Send up the Count, another great grass roots initiative. We are not a charity, we do not collect funds, we are not political. We serve our community through activities in support of the homeless and are just as satisfied if we do not find one of our own who has lost their way, but are elated when we do because we can offer hope, understanding, and access to programs and services to assist them and their families. There is a need for what we do – current projections say 26% of the homeless in Canada are Canadian Armed Forces veterans and their families. We do not do this for recognition. We do this because we can. We do this because we understand that it could have been any of us out on the street if we had made similar choices or gone through what these men and women did.
It is our sincere hope that we will someday have regional offshoots in every province in Canada, staffed by serving and former members of the Canadian Armed Forces and Department of National Defence employees. Should you feel up to the task, please contact me through the Soldiers Helping Soldiers email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss.
26 March 2014