We serve Veterans throughout all of our programs, but Evan Mack of Renton Veterans Center, and Shree Vigil of Shoreline Veterans Center, run programs exclusively for those who have served and their families. They share why they do the work they do.
|Why is it important that we serve Veterans? |
Each Veteran has served us. They deserve to have a space where they can find security, safety, healing, and a compassionate community. A lot of Veterans I work with share that when they get out of service and they go home, they can be with their family and friends again, but they don’t often feel as connected to them anymore. Add the high likelihood of being exposed to traumatic events while in service together with the fact that the lives of friends and family have changed while they’ve been gone, and you have a recipe for hardship.
Our Veterans programs help create an environment where Veterans build key connections with each other based on the shared understanding of where they’ve been. This allows them to support each other in a way that other folks can’t.
|Why does affordable housing matter? |
If you want someone to have what they need to maintain their mental health, physical health, employment, social connectedness, etc., you must start with housing.
Expecting someone to address those needs without a safe and consistent place to rest is unreasonable. When someone is homeless and they are in a constant state of trauma, they may not be in a place cognitively to do what you think may be a simple thing. We see it in our daily work, the stability that housing brings changes everything. It opens the doors for people to first stabilize and then grow.
You have an incredibly challenging job, why do you do it?
The best way I can describe why I do this work is with a story. One of my favorite things is giving an individual their mail key. I personally don’t look forward to my mail, it’s just bills and junk. I have one Veteran here at Shoreline Veterans Center who’s in his 60’s and when he moved in, he was a bit gruff and mostly kept to himself. While getting him settled, I took him over to the mailboxes and gave him a key. I asked him to test the key in his new mailbox. I knew it worked, but I wanted him to have that experience. He tried it and after he opened the mailbox, he suddenly stepped back and leaned on the couch behind him. Then I saw tears in his eyes.
It had been 10 years since he’d had that little mailbox that many of us take for granted. On top of that, he had a new home too!
That once gruff Veteran is now doing so many beautiful things in our community. His story gets me emotional every time I tell it. It’s in that one moment and moments like it where all the work gets pulled into focus, that’s why I do what I do.
Why do you think our community should support Compass and our Veterans programs?
When people give to organizations working with people experiencing homelessness, they hope that it leads to a difference in the lives of the people served. I can tell you that I personally come to work each day and see that difference being made, person by person. At Renton Veterans Center, dozens of households started with full government-subsidized housing and left without needing a dollar of assistance to live independently – we’ve even seen some of our households buy homes. We know that this is not everyone’s story, growth looks different for different people, and we’re proud of every adult and child we help grow.
We are good for the people we serve and for the community. Supporting Compass and our Veterans’ programs is a great way to make sure your resources are being invested in positive change.