OPERATION: Save the Brave
OPERATION: Save the Brave combatting Veteran homelessness and hunger in London
London, Ontario, May 1, 2019 – Veteran homelessness is a growing issue in Canada. Approximately 25 per cent of Veterans have difficulty with the transition to civilian life, putting them at risk of homelessness.
An accurate number of Canadian Veterans at risk of food and nutrition insecurity is unknown. It’s often a separate issue from that of being homeless.
“Those Veterans who are homeless are obviously at risk of food insecurity however there are a growing number of Veterans with places to live who are going hungry,” explained John Sluggett, Legion Service Officer for the London region. “Food insecurity in our Veterans is caused by a number of things including financial insecurity and mental illness that resulted from the job.”
The London area Royal Canadian Legions are piloting a food security project to get nutritious meals to Veterans at risk. The program is supported by Our Clinic, a local multi-disciplinary allied health clinic that specializes in care for Veterans.
“Our Clinic is proud to be involved in the pilot project with the local Legions,” said Wendy Moore, Vice-President of Our Clinic. “Our staff is involved, both with fundraising and with offering their expertise to the project. Our brilliant dietitian, Andrea Fennell, will be instrumental in making sure prepared meals are nutritious and reflect dietary needs and risks.”
OPERATION: Save the Brave is the fundraising program to finance the food security program and get more funds into the existing homeless program delivered by the area Legions.
“As the son of a Veteran, and nephew of two service members – one of whom is buried in Belgium – this is an initiative that strikes a very personal chord,” said London Mayor Ed Holder. “All Canadians, and all Londoners, owe a significant debt of gratitude to these brave men and women. I can think of few causes as noble as this one.”
The food security pilot project will be delivered three ways: grocery cards for those who are able to shop for themselves, bags of groceries for those independent enough to cook for themselves but unable to shop and, for those who are unable to cook for themselves, prepared meals will be delivered.
“We’re aware that we need to support each Veteran’s independence at the right level,” Sluggett added. “Veterans are proud. An awful lot of them won’t ask for help. We have to be respectful of them and reflect what they feel they can accomplish.”
For some Veterans, their PTSD keeps them house-bound. Some are not willing to answer the door to strangers. Both these issues contribute to food insecurity.
“Understandably, there are Veterans who find it difficult to transition into civilian life,” Moore stated. “They go from a very regimented lifestyle into a vast unknown. For about 25 per cent, this transition doesn’t go well and they end up homeless. Disabilities, major life events, addiction issues and the challenge of fitting into modern workplaces can all contribute to homelessness for our Veterans.”
Local musician Rob Crellin aka PIECES wrote Outside, the theme song for OPERATION: Save the Brave, and is allowing its use royalty-free in support of the project. You can hear the full version at https://piecesofmusic.bandcamp.com/track/outside.
Donations to OPERATION: Save the Brave will finance the Legion food security pilot program and give support to the existing Legion programs combatting homelessness. Our Clinic is providing administration and promotions to the project so 100 per cent of cash donations go directly to the Legion and 95 per cent of online donations reach the pilot and programs. Five per cent of online donations cover the banking and online service charges.
OPERATION: Save the Brave accepts donations online at www.ourclinic.life/savethebrave. In-person donations can be given at the four London Legion locations and at Our Clinic at 215 Fanshawe Park Road West. Other locations for the donation boxes will be announced on the Our Clinic website www.ourclinic.life.