At present, there are 110,000+ Australians currently roofless, homeless or living in insecure housing – which is tragic in and of itself – but as a veteran I’m heartbroken knowing that in NSW 8-10% of these are veterans.

1.6% of Australians volunteer to wear a uniform and serve this country, yet after they leave the service they are twice as likely to die by suicide, three times as likely to be unemployed or underemployed, and up to five times as likely to end up on the streets.

We clearly need to do more.

Which is why I’m doing my small part to make a difference by taking part in the Vinnies CEO Sleepout to raise money for the St Vincent de Paul Society to support all Australians in need. For one night, I’ll be sleeping outside to raise awareness for all of Australia’s homeless men, women and children – but I’m putting the spotlight on veterans specifically.

I’m fortunate to be one of the majority of veterans who are gainfully employed, and as such, able to put food on the table and keep a roof over my head. Now, I clearly don’t know what it’s like to be homeless, vulnerable and nigh on invisible, but recently a young veteran was sent to us for mentorship and his story involved recently living on the streets.

He offered to share his experience, this is what he had to say.

I asked him what his greatest struggle was…

“I’ve found the hardest struggle is no stability, from not having my own place and not having a purpose since leaving the army,” he said. “But I’m determined to tough it out and I think things will get better when I have a job, a roof and independence again.”

I asked him about what he wants to do next…

“I just need to save enough to get my own place and a car so I can attend my appointments and start my training to work in the fitness sector. I want to one day work within addiction and rehabilitation, that’s why I figured I’d start with PT.”

And then I asked him what the underlying problem was…

“I struggled when I first got out to find what I wanted to do next whilst looking for a job where I feel important and challenged.”

His story is no doubt common among the veterans who are lost in our streets and parks, so to help break the cycle of homelessness, I need your support. Will you help me to change this statistic for good?

In the US, a program called Built for Zero is ending veteran homelessness in a number of cities. With 5,000+ ESO’s operating around Australia, there are plenty of people waiting to help veterans and their families before their situation gets this dire – or with capability to support them if it does.

Our community needs to be linking in with local shelters and support services to ensure they are aware of the free help available to our vets. Sadly, organisations are under-resourced and often don’t have the capacity to be talking to each other, you could be the missing link.

Money isn’t always the answer. You can choose to link a local homeless shelter with a local veteran ESO. Or you can also donate to my CEO Sleepout campaign by following this link:

https://www.ceosleepout.org.au/fundraisers/chrisedwards/sydney

Written by Chris Rhyss

Labels du jour: writer / interweb evangelist / runner / caffeinated raconteur / a man.