By Gerald Hillard, Outreach Specialist
NVF’s Homeless Veteran Outreach Team takes services to where the veterans are.
There’s an encampment of vets under the 101 Freeway at Highland Blvd. in Hollywood. On Outreach, I had to hop three guard rails and run across Highland at the freeway on-ramp, then hike up the embankment.
“Hello! Are there any veterans here?” One head peeked out of the makeshift tent. “Are you hungry?”
I introduced myself as Gerald with the National Veterans Foundation, explained that we were on recon looking for our homeless veterans. We made it back to the NVF Outreach van parked on the median in the middle of busy Highland Blvd. to put together what I call a survivor pack; non-perishable items like protein bars, chips, canned sausages, protein drink, beet juice, Girl Scout cookies, emergency water plus new socks, a Hoodie, a hygiene kit, antibacterial hand wipes, and an NVF pamphlet. A Gulf War Army veteran, this vet had also been deployed to Afghanistan but had been sent back for some kind of bad conduct. I encouraged him to file for a discharge upgrade with a local Veteran Service Officer.
I let him know he could call our Lifeline for Vets toll-free from any payphone to speak with a crisis coun- selor between 9am & 5pm and get all the information that is needed to help him with resources for his discharge upgrade.
“No excuses,” I told him. He laughed and thanked me for the goodies and said he’d call first thing in the morning. We also made a pack for his girlfriend who was crossing the busy traffic making her way towards us. She expressed her thanks as well by ending our conversation with a God Bless You!
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The worst part of war should not be coming home.