Homeless Empowerment Program Helps
the ‘Campaign To Bring Our Veterans All the Way Home’
The Vietnam War taught us lessons, but not only about combat. We watched a generation of young people return home with permanent physical and emotional scars. Now, with troops scheduled to return from Iraq and Afghanistan, the Homeless Empowerment Program (HEP) is preparing for the effects of a new type of veteran as well as the types of long-term problems many will face through The Campaign to Bring Our Veterans All the Way Home..
“We have an entire generation of veterans who have been bouncing around in the system; some for thirty years. With the Afghan and Iraq wars now ten years old, and with close to three million men and women who served, we know there is going to be a significant influx of homelessness,” says HEP previous Chairman of the Board, Bruce Fyfe. “Twenty percent may come home with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and brain related injuries.”
With mental health services better dedicated to serving the needs of the current veteran population, proper diagnoses and care are now better available for these young men and women.
“Homelessness is a symptom. Too many shelters think the problem is there are people on the street,” Fyfe says. “The reality is we have people with addiction, illness, job loss–circumstances they cannot get themselves out of. Just giving them a bed and a meal does not solve the problem. We want to be the last homeless shelter that someone needs. We believe we are going to build a benchmark program people will look at as an example to avoid a generation of homelessness.”
Fyfe’s Commitment Is Personal
Fyfe is passionate about his work, and he understands all too well what so many families are going through. After serving three tours in Iraq, his 24 year-old son, Brendan, a marine, died of a heroin overdose. Like many who’ve experienced combat, Brendan returned home and self-medicated with alcohol and drugs. He alienated himself from family and friends.
“Brendan was diagnosed with severe PTSD,” says Fyfe. “I didn’t know a lot about it at the time. I know too much about it now.”