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Dialogues in the Campaign for Victory over Veteran Homelessness

Flyer for Veteran Homelessness event

This spring 2015 semester the Human Services Organization (HSO) joined forces with the Student Veterans Organization (SVO) in a two-part project to raise awareness around an issue that exists everywhere but is often avoided or ignored: veteran homelessness. The initiative began with a conversation between the two organizations and the Boston championing organization for veterans: New England Center for Homeless Veterans (NECHV). HSO has partnered with NECHV for a year sending members to volunteer at the meals and in the general store sorting donations. We discussed with CJ Beck, then the Community Relations Coordinator at NECHV, how we could support the organization while they undergo a major renovation project in order to provide more permanent housing for veterans within their facilities. CJ identified the need for socks, underwear, and toiletry items, specially in premade kits. Therefore, HSO and SVO worked together to host a 2-week long donation drive in the residence halls and tabling in the Library Quad to collect donations while also raising awareness around the issue of veteran homelessness to students at Northeastern University. To close up our project we hosted a screening of the multi-award winning 2007 documentary: “The Invisible Ones: Homeless Combat Veterans,” to help pre-empt a discussion with panelists from organizations around Boston that serve veterans in some capacity. The panelists came form the Somerville Homeless Coalition, Boston Vet Center, New England Center for Homeless Veterans, and Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance. Our panelists led a discussion with contributing questions from our audience members about the various services available for veterans and homeless veterans, the challenges veterans face upon integrating back into society, and the ways that we can help and that services can be improved in order for our nation to give our heroes the lives they deserve. Obama has declared 2015 the year we will declare victory over veteran homelessness. This is a large feat to accomplish and although, as a school, organization, and student, we may not be able to sing-handedly end veteran homelessness, there are many ways we can make a difference from engaging with veterans we see throughout Boston and thanking them for their service to writing to our congressmen and women to encourage positive change. NU students helped make an impact on the lives of the veterans at NECHV after the panel discussion that night, as we used our donations and other toiletries purchased to create 18 women toiletry kits and 23 general toiletry kits with cards for the veterans. We would like to thank the Center of Community Service for the monetary support that helped us to purchase toiletries we were lacking from our donations, and the Human Service Program for their help networking and advertising our event. We hope that as a university we are making steps towards becoming more away of these types of social justice issues every day, through events like these!

Published On: April 22, 2015 | Tags: ,,,,,,,,,,
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