What can you do to make a real difference?

written by Steve Berg
November 28, 2013

We will act to secure resources, educate officials, and contribute to the ongoing efforts by private and nonprofit organizations to guarantee that there is never another homeless veteran.

That’s the fourth part of the statement that thousands of people have already signed, as part of the Never Another Homeless Veteran campaign. (You can add your name to the campaign too.) The most common question we get, particularly from people who are new to the issue, is, “What can I do to make a real difference?” In this post I’ll suggest some actions that people can take, including people who aren’t involved in the issue on a day to day basis.

  • Write a letter – or five.  Your opinion matters, to elected officials and media leaders in your community. Let your Representative in Congress know that ending veterans homelessness is important to you and why, and that you regard that as an achievable goal. Use information from the Alliance website. Ask your Representative to get involved personally, to make a public statement, to make sure that local officials of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs are actively engaged in this work. Send the same letter to your two U.S. Senators, your Mayor, and the editor of your local newspaper. Want to take it to the next level? Then recruit five friends to do the same thing. A member of Congress who receives six thoughtful letters on the same topic will regard it as a major trend in public opinion.
  • Volunteer with a purpose.  At this point in the country’s move to end veterans homelessness, much of the action is at the local level. To make the kind of progress that veterans deserve, communities will need to pull together and organize the many resources that are available. Volunteers with particular skills will be needed, going way beyond serving at a soup kitchen. Possibilities include organizing recruitment efforts for landlords who will rent to homeless veterans, and employers who will hire them.  For more ideas, talk to the person in your community who is convening meetings to organize these efforts. There isn’t anyone in your community convening such meetings? Sounds like a volunteer opportunity! Be in touch with us for ideas on how to proceed.
  • Talk it up.  We want the Never Another Homeless Veteran Campaign to set off a wave of public outcry that will make veterans homelessness nothing but a bad memory.  For that to happen, word needs to spread.  Think about who are the five most influential people you know, and give them a briefing on how veterans homelessness can end. It could be a member of the clergy, a business owner, someone who’s involved in politics. It could be a reporter, a union official, or just someone who is known and respected by a lot of people.  Tell them about your passion, and ask them to spread the word. Send people to the Never Another Homeless Veteran website for more information. Beyond that, for those who engage in social media we have tools that will help you.
  • Donate. As you’re probably well aware, there are a lot of wonderful agencies and organizations out there working hard to end homelessness on the national and local levels. If you strongly believe in ending homelessness and you want to support their work, donate what you can afford. Such organizations are always in need of funding, and you can be assured that the money will be put to good use. The Alliance, of course, is one those organizations, and you can support our work too. Gifts to the Alliance can be made by check or credit card online, by phone at 202-942-8284, and by mail using our donation form. Visit our Ways to Donate page for more info.

Thanks to everyone who is taking part in this work!