Veterans News

Always There for Veterans

With restrictions on gatherings, VA facilities banning visitors, and everyone staying in to stay safe, many of our usual activities to support veterans are on hold right now.

But Elks are finding ways to be there for veterans, especially during this time of crisis. Here are a few examples of Elks upholding our pledge, from at least 6 feet away.

Many Lodges were left with unexpended Freedom Grant funds on March 31. Here’s how they adapted and continued to serve.

  • When Salem, Oregon Lodge No. 336 couldn’t continue their Veterans job training program, they shifted gears. After calling the ENVSC office, the Lodge instead used their remaining Freedom Grant funds to provide iPads to veterans at the Edward C. Allsworth Veterans Home, so that veterans can video chat with their families while in quarantine.
  • Similarly, Wallace, Idaho Lodge No. 331 didn’t know what to do with their remaining Freedom Grant funds when the Stand Down was cancelled. The Lodge adapted by taking the remaining funds and using them to provide meals that will be delivered to senior veterans in the community.

It’s a particularly tough time for those experiencing homelessness. You can’t exactly shelter in place if you don’t have a safe place to stay. Luckily, Elks are finding a way to keep their Welcome Home activities going.

  • El Paso, Tex., Lodge No. 187 is continuing to provide Welcome Home Kits full of essential household supplies to newly housed veterans. Here’s how they adjusted: Elks purchase the needed items and leave them on the family’s doorstep. Then, Elks facetime the veteran and family to chat and connect!
  • At right, here’s a veteran with his supplies.

With so many people unable to work, the Elks Emergency Assistance Fund is even more of a lifeline for veterans. These funds go to veterans in the 8 areas with the highest number of homeless veterans, to help veterans stay housed or become housed.

Read a recent thank you note we received from Army Veteran Brian, who received rental assistance when his apartment became unsafe to live in.

“I wish I could repay you. Maybe one day I can. The Elks can call on me whenever they need. I could cry, I am so overwhelmed. Thank you!”

And even though VA Medical Centers, Veterans Homes and other facilities are closed to visitors, our Voluntary Service Representatives are doing all they can to ensure that these veterans aren’t forgotten.

  • Robert Kane, Representative at the Anna Veterans Home in Illinois, couldn’t visit with veterans like he normally does, but he was able to deliver some essentials: coffee and snacks. Staff loaded up the Elks cart with the treats, and they now have new insight into why people appreciate the Elks so much.
  • Anitra Butler, Representative at the St. Albans Veterans Home in New York, is keeping up her visits with veterans, but doing it through Zoom video meetings! Even online visits can keep veterans’ spirits up.
  • David Martin, Representative at the Minneapolis Veterans Home in Minnesota, wasn’t able to host his regular Bingo event. Instead, he donated the funds and prizes needed to host it, so that the veterans wouldn’t miss out. Staff and the residents made sure to send photos of the Bingo party and a thank you note to the Elks so they could feel like they were there.
  • Nancy Wolke, Representative at the Seattle VA Medical Center in Washington couldn’t visit the facility to help out like normal but came through with emergency supplies. She ordered multi-packs of shirts and sweatpants. Even during a pandemic, these items are needed for struggling veterans who arrive with no clean clothes to wear home.

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