The National Veterans Homeless Support picked up the pace of its assistance to homeless veterans in 2012 in Brevard and surrounding counties, thanks to a surprise $1 million boost from the state.
But now, long after that money was used to established transitional homes and for Stand Downs, one-day events to help veterans, the organization operated with the help of volunteers now is relying on the community to continue its work.
The organization is holding NVHS Rescuing Veterans Lost in America Dinner, a $100-per-person event hosted by Brevard County constitutional officers May 16 at the Radisson Resort at the Port convention center.
Guest of honor and featured speaker is retired Col. Danny McKnight, known for commanding an Army Ranger unit in a mission into Mogadishu, Somalia, that was depicted in the movie “Black Hawk Down.”
Property Appraiser Dana Blickley, Tax Collector Lisa Cullen, Clerk of Courts Scott Ellis, Sheriff Wayne Ivey and Supervisor of Elections Lori Scott have united to host the event.
“All five are committed to the event because of what NVHS has done for the homeless,” said Blickley, a longtime volunteer who serves on the board of directors of NVHS.
She said the State Attorney’s Office, the Public Defender’s Office and others also have committed to the cause of helping veterans in need.
“We want to show the community the power of partnership,” said George Taylor Sr., founder and president of NVHS. “It will show what partnership can accomplish. It’s going to be huge.”
Taylor, a Vietnam veteran who many years ago found himself homeless, said he needs to get even more community leaders involved.
He said, without grants, he must make others aware and get them involved so he can pay for housing homeless veterans, and for search and rescue to get the men and women out of woods and back to a productive life.
“What haunts me daily is that a veteran commits suicide every hour,” he said.
Blickley said it is important to get city leaders involved in helping the homeless, which, in turn, is good for their communities.
“We need to continue our discussions with our cities,” she said. “Partnering with us would help them.”
Taylor said that, with a $5 donation, he can supply basic needs to four homeless veterans per visit to the woods. He is trying to get residents to commit to giving, $5, $10 or $20 a month to provide basic needs for homeless veterans.
Taylor said NVHS has helped to greatly reduce the number of homeless veterans in Brevard County over the past few years. He said the overall number of homeless has been reduced by 43 percent over the last two years.
Taylor said the latest count of homeless veterans stood at about 460, but he believed that, once a full count is compiled in coming weeks, it will show even fewer homeless veterans.
He said the men and women live in the woods, in vacant buildings, in vehicles or are lodging or “sharing couch,” going from place to place sleeping a few night at friends’ homes.
NVHS operates three houses and three apartments with 17 beds to house homeless veterans for up to two years while they transition into their own apartments or houses.
“The way we have to do this is through donations,” Blickley said. “We have to keep those houses open.”
Contact Moody at 321-242-3651 or firstname.lastname@example.org Follow on Twitter @RNormanMoody
If you go
Contact Jennifer Taylor at National Veterans Homeless Support at 321-254-2176
View the Florida Today article online at http://www.floridatoday.com/story/news/local/2015/05/05/group-relies-community-help-homeless-veterans/26930379/