I met Gayle Montgomery quite a while back and impressed with the depth of concern she has for her fellow human beings. Through her job she met Sergeant Major Acosta. A disabled Vet who lost his eyesight during a batle in the Middle East. Gayle also works on a local committee trying to find solutions to our homeless problem and became aware that a large percentage of our homeless are Vets with no resources to help themselves. Sergeant Major and Gayle got to talking about the problems the expected El Nino will bring for them. Here are a few of the things they discussed.
Homelessness in Vets was reduced from 4 years ago. Now 1 in 10 who sleep on the streets is a veteran.
There has been a 6% spike in the last year of homeless veterans, probably attributable to the spiraling cost of housing in combination with the draw down.
The largest concentration of homeless Vets anywhere in our nation is in LA County where there are over 4,000 Vets who sleep on the street.
It is the position of the group that has who have joined hands in lockstep across a wide geographical area, that no person who honorably served our nation should have to sleep on the streets.
No person who served our nation should have to suffer such adverse weather conditions without supplies and without knowing that, Gayle’s employer is Glad to Be of Service to those who faithfully served us.
This project very closely parallels the Soldiers Angels Program which serves those on the battlefield. This project serves those who were on the battlefield, came home, and have had difficulty reintegrating into society.
From that conversation came the idea to create Thank a Vet Inc and their first mission “Operation Save a Vet”. It will consist of a multipronged approach to help the homeless vets trying to survive on the streets during the coming rainy season. First is getting in kind materials donated to them for distribution. Second is to raise funds for care and shelter for these vets, men and women trying to cope with life outside the military.
There are multiple ways to give to support Operation Save a Vet. First is direct donations to Operation Save a Vet at their collection centers set up at the Monrovia Friday Festival on Myrtle Avenue on 11/6 and 11/13 from 5-8:30PM. Here is a list of things they need:
- umbrellas, ponchos, blankets
- travel sized toiletries for men and women including feminine hygiene products
- new packages socks and underwear
- new or gently used backpacks or large ladies purses
- warm sweaters, sweatshirts, hoodies, jackets and gloves
- quart sized ziploc bags
- gift ars to local fast food places
- messages and cards with greeetings of Holiday Cheer and a Thank you for their service
- cash, check, paypal gifts accepted as well
Can’t make it to the Monrovia Friday Festival? They have an Amazon Wish List set up where you can purchase supplies and have them sent directly to Thank A Vet for distribution.
With Los Angeles Metro having the largest concentration of homeless vets in the nation they have 3 supply deliveries planned throughout the metro area for the homeless vets at shelters in the following areas:
- Los Angeles 11/27/2015
- Anaheim 12/5/2015
- Redlands 12/12/2015
Your cash donations are really important. They are a new non-profit with little funds to work with so your support there would be greatly appreciated. The nonprofit is up for a small dollar grant from a significant southland corporation. If received, those funds will flow directly into the project, and the nonprofit will match those dollars in equal value. If the grant is not received, the nonprofit will still invest $3,000 in supplies in addition to all in-kinds received.
Just a little about the Sergeant Major from the press release I got on Thank a Vet Now.
The Sergeant Major’s BioSgt. Major Jesse Acosta, US Army Retired, has a rich and storied history of service to this nation. A Southern California native, Acosta actively served in the military from 1975 to 2010 and is the recipient of numerous awards for his valor, not the least of which include the Purple Heart, Bronze Star, and the Presidential Certificate of Appreciation.Deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005, Sgt. Major was assigned to LSA Anaconda Base in Bilad, Iraq, a place of persistent enemy attack. Sixteen days after being promoted to his current rank in 2006, Acosta was hit by enemy fire. A mortar cost him his eyesight and other significant sensory deprivations. It is said that, while severely wounded, he was still giving orders and caring for the warriors with whom he was serving, thinking first of them.Rehabilitation efforts ensued. Acosta’s tenacity and courage carried him through the darkest of days. Though he still faces challenges, he has since gone on to serve as a motivational speaker, an advocate for the disabled—most especially disabled warriors—and successfully championed legislation for the blind. October 2010 found him at the White House with the President for the signing of HR 3101.Today, Sgt. Major is a fervent advocate for wounded warriors and the many challenges they face and resides in the LA area. He has committed his life in service to other Vets. He knows their challenges well.