Help For Homeless Veterans

September 1, 2012 by Sharon Adams

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A strong and caring commitment of half a million dollars—that’s The Royal Canadian Legion’s initial funding for a program that will help homeless veterans across the country.

“I am extremely proud to announce a national Leave the Streets Behind program,” said Dominion President Pat Varga, who made the announcement during her report to dominion convention in Halifax.

The program’s mission is to reach out to the homeless or near homeless by providing immediate financial assistance and support and to connect veterans to local social and community services to establish a long-term solution.

The Dominion President told delegates the program will build on work already underway in provincial commands and branches across Canada. She praised the work by British Columbia/Yukon, Ontario, Alberta/Northwest Territories and Nova Scotia/Nunavut commands.  “Your work at transitioning veterans is fantastic,” she said.

British Columbia/Yukon Command has built a transition house in Victoria; Alta./N.W.T. operates a food bank in Calgary, has built a transition house in the area and works with first responders to identify homeless and near-homeless veterans; Ontario launched the provincial Leave the Streets Behind Program in 2010; N.S./Nunavut has launched the Veterans Outreach Program to establish community partnerships to assist the homeless and near homeless.

Branches across Canada have also helped homeless or near-homeless veterans using poppy trust funds to avoid eviction by helping with rent, the purchase of food and clothing and to meet emergency needs.

Together these efforts provide a foundation for the national program. The new national initiative will help provincial commands establish programs using the Ontario Command program as an example. These programs will provide homeless veterans with immediate financial assistance and will help them apply for assistance from Veterans Affairs Canada and community agencies.

Dominion Command will provide initial funding, and Ontario Command has offered to help other commands develop similar programs. This homeless initiative “will ensure that provincial commands and the Legion branches will [continue] to reach out to the homeless and near homeless,” said Varga.


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