July 8, 2014

A New Battle

Every day I wage war on hopelessness, homelessness and despair. I do it because God calls us to love our neighbors and He has given me a deep sense of purpose in reaching out to those in need—the people others simply walk past.

I love working at the Mission, but sometimes it’s heartbreaking. This is a tough job to be sure. But I don’t think it’s anything like carrying a machine gun and wearing a bulletproof vest while fighting to protect our country.

I have deep respect for men and women in the military. That’s why it’s so hard for me to look at the latest statistics about homelessness and mental illness among veterans. But since it’s July and we just celebrated our country’s hard-won independence, I wanted to shed some light on a new battle many of our soldiers face once they come home.

Here is what I’ve found:

  • 23% of all homeless people are veterans who have served our country.
  • 45% of homeless veterans suffer from mental illness, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
  • One in 10 veterans is disabled, oftentimes by injuries sustained in combat.
  • Every day, 22 veterans commit suicide.

These numbers are tragic, but they are real. And they show us that when it comes to homelessness, we have a new battle on our hands.

The pain of war, combined with lack of housing and job training puts veterans at a great risk for mental illness and homelessness.

Once they are homeless, if they don’t get the care they need, they can easily slip into depression, despair, and such severe mental illness that they don’t even recognize themselves.

But when they get the help they need — support to heal from their past, nourishing food and a safe place to sleep — these American heroes can get their lives back.

Because Everett has an active naval station and over 5,000 men and women currently on active duty, this isn’t an issue we can ignore. It’s on our doorsteps, down our streets and we see it every day. 

Please join with me in praying for our veterans. If you know someone is homeless and suffering from a mental illness, please point them to Everett Gospel Mission. We will do everything we can to get them the food, shelter and the support they need to heal.

God bless you!