Written by Kay Pinkerton, volunteer contributor
|Our Red Cross Service to Armed Forces volunteers worked alongside veterans to bring hope to those who served and have had troubles back home.|
On October 26, the American Red Cross North Texas Region’s Service to Armed Forces team offered services, supplies and smiles at this year’s Dallas Homeless Stand Down event. Designed to assist local homeless and at-risk veterans, an estimated 750 former members of the U.S. Armed Forces attended the event.
Leading the Red Cross team was Brian Moeschler, Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) Program Manager for the American Red Cross North Texas Region. “There are about 50 to 60 Red Cross volunteers at today’s event,” said Moeschler. “Some are handing out toiletry kits. Others are distributing clothing or providing medical services. We’re also giving out 500-minute calling cards so veterans can use them to stay in touch with their families.”
|Red Cross "comfort kits" are loaded with toiletries for homeless veterans.|
Homeless Stand Down is a community-based intervention program designed to provide a “hand up, not a handout” to Dallas homeless. This year’s event took place at the Veterans Resource Center in Dallas. The Red Cross was among hundreds of local volunteers and organizations that contributed to its success. The Red Cross partnered with other agencies to bring hope and help to homeless veterans, including the Veterans Affairs North Texas Health Care System Homeless Veterans Outreach program and the Homeless Veterans Services of Dallas, Inc. (HVSD).
For more than a century, the Red Cross has partnered with the United States Armed Forces to ensure that service members, veterans and their families have access to humanitarian services. SAF services are delivered through the Red Cross chapter network both domestically and on military installations around the world.
According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), one out of every six people in a U.S. homeless shelter is a veteran. Those who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces are 50 percent more likely to fall into homelessness than other Americans are. To combat this issue, the VA launched a 2009 campaign to eliminate homelessness among veterans by 2015.
The campaign appears to be showing some progress. In January 2011, the VA estimated that on a single night there were 67,495 homeless veterans nationwide. This is a 12 percent decline from January 2010, according to a 2011 annual homeless assessment report.
“The VA is putting a lot of resources into its campaign,” said HVSD President Ken Watterson. “We have a good partnership here and a good turnout. As a community partner, the Red Cross has played a key role. It’s doing a great job.”
To learn more about the Red Cross’ Service to Armed Forces, or to become a Red Cross volunteer, visit us online at redcross.org.