Whilst the following article is nothing to do with UK veterans, I feel that it’s worth putting the story up on our site as it highlights the plight of veterans everywhere and the lengths that ordinary people are going to in order to help them where ever they can.
As always, your comments would be greatly appreciated.
Meeting needs is the goal of the Love A Michigan Vet project, whose founder, Nadine Jones, became a champion of change when she saw the unmet needs of local veterans.
Jones served two years with AmeriCorps, a domestic version of the Peace Corps, which engages adults in public service with the goal of helping others and meeting the urgent needs of communities.
As she worked with veterans as a resource navigator, helping them find and apply for benefits, she became aware of the great need for ongoing help for veterans, which inspired her to start a non-profit, the Love A Michigan Vet Project two years ago to continue the work she had begun through AmeriCorps. She applied for and was granted 501(c)(3) non-profit status.
Jones said the groups serves all of Michigan, but she hopes to expand and become a nationwide non-profit.
“So any veteran anywhere can contact me and I will help them,” Jones said. “I’ve worked with Kalamazoo, I’ve done things in Saginaw, we’ve shipped things up north when needed. I will never turn a veteran away.”
She said her job as a resource navigator with AmeriCorps opened her eyes to the needs of veterans.
“I came across veterans that were homeless, that needed counseling, that needed legal aid,” Jones said. “They had so many needs, and sometimes they needed food, or clothes or diapers for their baby.
“So I realized with AmeriCorps even with us helping them with resources there were other needs not being met and there was no one to provide them.”
At AmeriCorps, Jones learned to look for veterans in need in homeless shelters and on the streets.
“I was literally serving dinner in the streets of Detroit looking for veterans to help,” she said.
Jones said it is difficult to reach different government agencies when you call numbers and leave a recorded message.
“They are so backlogged,” she said. “They can’t call back. So (vets) don’t get what they need.”
She said the suicide rate for veterans is unacceptably high.
“I don’t know if you know this, but 22 vets kill themselves every single day,” she said. “Sometimes they get so frustrated with not getting help that they give up. So if I save a life, it matters to me.”
She said when veterans confide in her and say they don’t want to become a suicide statistic, she becomes even more focused to get them the help they need.
Jones said she gets to know some of the veterans personally, and they share their struggles and triumphs with her.
“When they leave the shelter, they are so excited that they are leaving,” she said. “We help furnish their homes for them when they leave (the shelter). They are just so excited to share with me. Everyone’s story is different.”
Jody Kovich became involved with the Love a Michigan Vet Project when she saw a post on Facebook from a veteran who needed help to take his young daughter to a father-daughter dance and was out of his element and beyond his resources. After working with him, Kovich said she became more involved with the cause of helping veterans, delivering Thanksgiving dinners to homeless shelters and too low-income veterans.
Then, as Christmas approached, she found herself connecting with a Downriver Toys for Tots group, and they were able to help supply toys for children of veterans with limited means.
“Ever since then, I have tried to get more and more involved,” Kovich said.
Kovich, who said she is good at fund-raising, said she partnered with Pam Lezotte, co-owner of Buster’s Place in Trenton, and held a fundraiser for the Love a Michigan Veteran Project Nov. 4, which raised more than $5,000 to help fund the group’s programs like its new winter coat giveaway to homeless vets during the winter holidays.
Kovich said in addition to fund-raising, she tries to connect the group with other charitable resources and hopes to apply for grants. She said the group has negligible overhead, so donations go to benefit the veterans, whether in shelters or on limited incomes.
Kovich said they work with four different homeless shelters in the Southeast Michigan area. On Nov. 12, they were serving a steak and potato dinner donated by the Wyandotte Jaycees at a shelter.
Kovich said when she looks around at the veterans, it reminds her of her late father, who served for 25 years in the Air Force.
“He was my hero, and I saw him struggle,” she said. “This could happen to any of these guys. I am just thankful that there are places where they can go and places that we can serve them.”
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