New charity aims to end homelessness for Canadian military veterans
Homeless veterans in Calgary will soon be getting some much needed help with a new charitable initiative set to open later in 2018.
The Homes for Heroes Foundation is moving ahead with a plan to build a community of 20 tiny homes for use by veterans experiencing homelessness to ensure that they can successfully transition into civilian life.
Each of the homes comes fully furnished and is associated with the name of a soldier who died while in Afghanistan.
The community will be built in Bridgeland, on a parcel of land subleased from the Canadian Institute for the Blind.
David Howard, who works with the organization, says he was inspired to do something after a personal experience he had with his grandfather.
“About 10 years ago, I went to visit my grandfather. He’s a vet and he lives in an eight by eight apartment. So I slept on the floor and he slept on the couch. The couch was his bed. When I woke up, sadly, I saw him eating dog food. As you can imagine, it just shakes your soul.”
Howard says that his grandfather had issues, including PTSD.
This latest charitable work builds on that support offered to members of the Canadian military.
“It’s a partnership between the Canadian Legacy Project and the McCann Family Foundation. Murray McCann created the Field of Crosses. I have had the privilege to work on that team for the last eight or nine years. He and I know that there is a terrible issue, an epidemic, that we have over 2,600 homeless veterans across the country, 180 roughly in Calgary.”
Homes For Heroes was created to offer a home to veterans that would have access to the support programs they need for a period of two years.
“There are issues that our veterans face when they leave the armed forces with regards to employment, with regards to post-traumatic stress, in regards to working together peer-to-peer support. These are things that they need help with but they are not currently getting it.”
The village will also include a resource centre with a counsellor’s office, community gardens and a park-like atmosphere.
Murray McCann says that the number of homeless veterans in Canada is a ‘scandal’ and he wanted to do something to help out.
“You have people, men and women, who were in the forces who were vibrant, who have now fallen through the cracks for whatever reason. They’ve been to Afghanistan, they’ve been to places and done things for our country that we will never know and consequently, some of them broke.”
He says that the Homes For Heroes will help bring them back to their previous vibrancy.
“To assist a veteran evolve from homelessness and despondency to their original vitality and self-dependency gives us great satisfaction. The villages across Canada will allow grateful Canadians to show our veterans the appreciation we feel for their service to our country,” Murray said.
The final goal for the organization will be the establishment of other villages in every major city in Canada.
The hope is to have Calgary’s village up and running by Remembrance Day.
For more information on the project and how to provide further support, you can go to the organization’s website.