Legion Initiates Programs For Homeless Veterans

November 3, 2012 by Legion Magazine

Since 1926 The Royal Canadian Legion has operated a Service Bureau providing a continuum of assistance to veterans and their families through representation, benevolent assistance and advocacy. This service has included assisting homeless or near homeless veterans.  In more recent years, some Legion commands have developed programs aimed at helping homeless veterans and near homeless veterans.

For example:

• British Columbia/Yukon Command has been assisting homeless veterans for many years, supporting Veterans Manor in Vancouver’s east side and more recently, Cockrell House, a transition house in Victoria;

• Alberta-Northwest Territories Command has operated a food bank for over 20 years assisting many veterans in their community and is engaged with first responders in identifying and assisting homeless or near homeless veterans;

• More recently, Alberta-N.W.T. Command has supported a transition house, Maddison House, for homeless veterans in the Calgary area;

• Ontario Command launched the Leave The Streets Behind program in 2010.  This program is based on a model  of providing immediate emergency assistance while facilitating the bridge between homeless veterans and Veterans Affairs Canada or social service agencies for long-term assistance; and

• Nova Scotia/Nunavut Command launched the Veterans Outreach Program bringing together community resources and establishing partnerships to provide proactive assistance to homeless and near homeless veterans.

At the same time, Legion branches across the country have been fielding an increased number of Poppy Trust Fund requests from veterans of all ages and walks of life for emergency funds to assist with rent to avoid eviction, food, clothing and emergency needs with an emphasis on near homeless veterans.

These programs have developed independently and will now provide the foundation of a national homeless veterans program. It is anticipated that there will be an increase in the number of veterans coming forward with both physical and psychological injuries as a result of the high operational tempo over the last 20 years and the number of multiple tours. The Legion is ensuring consistent financial support is available in each provincial command to meet the demand when and where needed. The Legion has the experience, knowledge and capacity through the Service Bureau Network to reach out to veterans and make a difference. We Care.

The Leave The Streets Behind program’s mission is to reach out to homeless veterans or near homeless veterans by providing immediate financial assistance and support when and where needed and connecting them with the appropriate social and community services to establish a long-term solution.  If you are aware of a homeless veteran or of a veteran needing assistance please call 613-591-3335 or toll-free at 1-877-534-4666 to speak with a service officer or e-mail us at: servicebureau@legion.ca or visit our website www.legion.ca to contact a command service officer in your area.

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