LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — From post-traumatic stress disorder and poverty to hunger and homelessness, far too many veterans are in need of help in the greater Los Angeles area — help that local nonprofit Village for Vets is hoping to provide.
“Village for Vets is 100% dedicated to eradicating veteran homelessness,” Marcie Swartz, the organization’s founder and chief executive officer, said. “And we do that by filling gaps in critical services for homeless and at-risk veterans in greater Los Angeles on their journey to stability and independence.”
Swartz said that while there were systems in place to help veterans, they often become overwhelmed by the need, which is when she and her organization step in.
“We’re like the oil in the wheel,” she said. “We fill the gaps so that the programs can help the greatest number of at-risk and homeless veterans.”
In one recent example, Swartz said the VA started a program to move homeless veterans off the streets and into supportive housing on its campus with social workers and services set up for the veterans to access, but the program was unable to provide food for the vets.
“The VA is prohibited from using their budget for food for any homeless veteran that does not live in structured housing,” Swartz said. “So we were one of their first phone calls.”
And with the assistance of numerous volunteers and community partnerships across the Southland, Swartz said her organization is able to provide food to more than 200 veterans in 18 different buildings every week through the meal program.
“I feel like this is what I was born to do,” she said. “These numbers are small now because we’ve just started, but one day they’ll be in the thousands. So we’re just really looking for all of Los Angeles to step forward and help us to eradicate veteran homelessness.”
Those interested in learning more about Village for Vets can do so online.