Along with members from Rolling Thunder, Inc. and the Non-Commissioned Officers Association – both veterans-focused organizations – I stopped by to honor veterans from our nation’s past and current wars.
As a cadet, it was humbling being there with men and women who had fought for their country and are still fighting to help their fellow soldiers still. However, it was still troubling to realize that there are still large numbers of men and women veterans that don’t have homes.
The ceremony started with HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan addressing the crowd, reminding us that veterans too often return home from conflicts to experience homelessness. Thanking veterans for their service, the Secretary called for HUD to continue its efforts to strengthen the family and life that veterans return home to by creating affordable housing and aiding service members in buying their first home.
The keynote speaker for the afternoon was Major General Errol R. Schwartz, Commanding General of the DC National Guard. Gen. Schwartz thanked HUD and other groups for their ongoing work to provide homes for veterans in need. He also made it a point to specifically thank veterans that served during the Vietnam era for serving during a controversial time in America’s history and making up one of the largest groups of veterans who are homeless.
Both General Schwartz and Secretary Donovan talked a lot about providing affordable housing to veterans and trying to combat homelessness. To me, this shows that the government sees the importance of the role it plays in making sure that our men and women who are fighting for our country overseas have a home to come back to when they return.
The ceremony came to an emotional close when Chaplain Luis Ganaway put into words the reason why groups like the Alliance and HUD do what they do. He said, “We provide a service because we care for those who serve.”
I hope everyone has a happy Memorial Day.
For more information about veterans homelessness, please visit the Alliance website.