If your Lodge is using a Community Investments Program grant to serve veterans and military members in need, the project must focus on one of these five areas of increased need.
Homelessness and Housing
Many military members struggle to find employment when they return home, and veterans’ unemployment level is higher than the national average. Help veterans find jobs in the local community.
Dakota County, Minn., Lodge No. 2832 uses a Freedom Grant to help veterans find and keep work by providing job training and work clothes to residents of the Hastings Veterans Home.
HOMELESSNESS AND HOUSING
Homelessness and housing is a struggle for many who have served, and as many as one in five homeless persons is a veteran. On any given night, an estimated 50,000 veterans are living on the streets. By reaching out to the homeless population in your community, you are supporting veterans.
Redding, Calif., Lodge No. 1073 used its Spotlight Grant to furnish apartments at a transitional living facility for veterans. These veterans have experienced housing insecurity, and stay in the facility while they transition into permanent housing.
Watch this video below to meet seven vets who were there recently but have now exited homelessness with help from the Veterans Administration and community partners like the Elks.
Then, learn more about the Elks' commitment to eliminating the scourge of veteran homelessness here.
Military families have unique struggles—spouses may have trouble finding employment, families may struggle with finances, and children may need help with school transitions and coping with the absence of a parent. Support local military families.
Yucca Valley, Calif., Lodge No. 2314 used a Beacon Grant to throw a baby shower for 10 expecting mothers from the local Marine Corps base. Attendees were treated to a luncheon and received essential baby supplies, such as diaper kits, car seats, strollers, pack-n-plays and clothing.
Veterans with injuries have many needs, and health is a concern for many veterans. Hospitalized, homebound and elderly veterans may have little support. Care kits, clothes, bus passes, and supplies are always needed. Personal contact is also needed, and much appreciated.
Parsons, Kan., Lodge No. 527 uses a Beacon Grant to hold a mental health first aid course for veterans and their families. The program covers mental health concerns often encountered by veterans, and strategies to stay mentally well.
Brookfield, Mo., Lodge No. 874 uses its Beacon Grant to fund a Veterans Transport Program. A group of Elks volunteer to take veterans without access to transportation to doctor appointments.
Watch this interview of Pat Gleason, Chief of Voluntary Service at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center in Chicago, as he talks about how Elks can effectively serve veterans at VA centers across the country.
Many recently returned veterans are at risk of dropping out. Student veterans need extra help to get an education, stay in school and focus on their future. Reach out to student veterans in the community and provide them with educational support.
Santa Barbara, Calif., Lodge No. 613 uses its Beacon Grant to hold a monthly bowling league and support group for student veterans.
BE A FRIEND
At the end of the day, any veteran you hope to help needs to be connected to their local community, but not put under the microscope. Invite veterans to take part in your Lodge’s charitable activities. Be an inviting friend.
Revisit a Hand Up: Read our series focusing on the issues facing today's returning servicemen and women, as well as examples and resources for Lodges looking to do more to serve them. Check out the Hand Up series here.
Watch Inspiring Interviews:Watch and share the stories of seven formerly homeless veterans.