Nationwide, there are more than 40,000 homeless veterans. Majority of whom have served in wars ranging from World War II to the Korean War; the Cold War and the Vietnam War; as well as the Persian Gulf War and in Afghanistan and Iraq. At least one-third of homeless veterans have been stationed in a war zone, and two-thirds have served our country for at least three years.
As a veteran myself and a business owner, I have made it my goal to positively impact veterans in need, which is why in 2018, I co-founded Beds4Vets, a 501c (3) non-profit organization with the mission to help veterans as they transition from homelessness to living in their own apartment or house.
Founded by myself; Zachary Bagdon, a U.S. Coast Guard veteran and a member of the U.S. Naval Order, the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans and the Military Officer Association of America; and Justin Czerwinski, Marine Corp veteran, now retired from the organization, Beds4Vets helps fill the gaps in existing government programs while giving thanks to homeless veterans for their service by helping them get the essentials they need to comfortably live in their own home.
Although the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) assists homeless veterans in finding permanent housing, they lack the funds to furnish these spaces. So, we work directly with the Veteran Affairs social workers to provide recently housed veterans with household items like beds, kitchen tables, linens and cooking utensils. The process starts with a veteran being placed in permanent housing, followed by Beds4Vets providing the social worker with a check list of items we can provide. The social worker then reviews the list with the veteran to determine what household items are needed. Upon receipt of the list, we purchase the items through the many vendors we work with to meet the veteran’s needs. Finally, these items are delivered directly to the veteran by UPS and FedEx to respect the privacy of the individual.
The impact we have on these veterans’ lives makes such a difference and helps reduce the risk of reverting back to a life of homelessness. Keeping veterans off the streets requires more than a roof – it requires the veteran to build out a social network and develop a sense of pride in their home. Those are hard things to do when you don’t have a bed to sleep in, a chair to sit on or the kitchenware necessary to prepare food.
We are excited to be able to provide support through our Beds4Vets organization, which is 100 percent volunteer based. As a possible result of deployment or other life events, veterans can often face homelessness, and our hope is that our organization helps recognize our veterans’ great service and sacrifice by helping them settle into safe, comfortable housing.
We are filling a need by providing essential household items to newly-housed veterans, helping to improve their physical and psychological well-being by increasing their social interaction and giving them a sense of belonging. We’re so proud to help veterans make an empty apartment or house feel more like a home,