These folks risked their lives to protect ours ... and far too often never got the thanks and the respect that they deserved. Perhaps now we can do a little something to give something back.
ONE THOUSAND HOMELESS VETS AND THEIR FAMILIES NOW HOUSED THANKS TO GRASS ROOTS EFFORT SUPPORTED BY
ZZ TOP’S DUSTY HILL, KATY PERRY,
JOHN MELLENCAMP, MITCH ALBOM,
SUSAN SARANDON AND OTHER NOTABLES
Veterans Matter is an innovative grass-roots effort started in Toledo, Ohio by a formerly homeless man in an effort to house 35 local veterans. From that homespun campaign and with the help of the entertainment industry, 20+ musicians, bands, actors, actresses, managers, publicists, writers, singers, individual and corporate donors, Veterans Matter has raised $800,000 and housed over 1000 veterans in eleven states.
“There are over 47,000 veterans still homeless on our nation’s streets. Streets where they are being beaten, robbed, even killed. If this kind of thing happened while they were serving we would be outraged. The celebrity advocates who have come out to help this cause are really providing a voice for the voiceless,” said Ken Leslie, the founder and Advocate-in-Chief of Veterans Matter.
Coordinated with the VA’s homeless outreach coordinators, Veterans Matter essentially passes donations, less very minimal program costs, directly to landlords to provide deposits which open the door to immediate long-term housing and case management. This partnership gives Veterans Matter an evidence-based 100% success rate in housing veterans in a program that has a 91% success rate in keeping them housed.
Urged by music industry friends who wanted to help house homeless veterans in their home states, Leslie grew the Veterans Matter program and created an on-line cloud-based system to allow Veterans Administration coordinators to quickly access and secure deposits literally in minutes.
Whether donating several minutes, several hours or several dollars, these supporters see the fruits of their efforts week by week, state by state. For example:
· Operation Texas was started by Dusty Hill of ZZ Top when he convened a group of businessmen in Houston. The return for his efforts resulted in that group’s raising over $250,000 and housing nearly 500 Texas veterans.
· The same day John Mellencamp became chair of Operation Indiana, Veterans Matter received a $37,000 donation that resulted in 96 Indiana veterans being housed to date.
· Operation Michigan was started by writer Mitch Albom who has donated $35,000 to house Michigan veterans. With additional funding raised or donated by Katy Perry, Kid Rock, and a compassionate corporation, over 150 homeless Michigan veterans have been housed to date.
· Katy’s support also garnered the creation of Operation Mid-Atlantic which has to date raised $25,000 and housed a dozen veterans.
· Many of these and other celebrity advocates have recorded national radio/video PSA's and provided social media support.
The impact of the efforts of these celebrities transcends the additional revenue raised. Using the online system to refer veterans, the VA can yield immediate approval with a confirming email sent to the landlord. The support of these notables has been critical in getting many landlords to allow the veterans and their families to cross the threshold into their own homes with only the confirmation email.
Veterans Matter can help accomplish in minutes what can take existing programs two weeks to two months to accomplish. Services and resources are provided by the VA help many of these now-housed vets and their families to recapture their lives and return to domestic autonomy.
The partnership with the VA gives the program a documented 100% success rate in housing veterans through a long term VA program that has a 91% success rate in keeping them housed. Depending on revenue, program costs are running 14% - 17%.
Veterans Matter is a program of 1Matters.org, a Toledo based non-profit which creates and funds new programs to house the unhoused.
With the government set to release up to 10,000 more housing vouchers this year, the group is currently reaching out to agents, managers, publicists and entertainment industry personalities to ramp up the recruiting of additional celebrity advocates. The hope is to raise at least $1.5 million to house another 2,000 veterans and veteran families this year.
“Fans may forget that no matter the level of fame and achievement, these high profile people are regular Americans like you and me who simply believe that veterans matter and that we must take care of our own,” Leslie said.
Current Veterans Matter celebrity advocates roster
Ann & Nancy Wilson
Big & Rich
Dusty Hill and ZZ Top
For more information or to get involved, visit www.veteransmatter.org