Having family in the Military, I have a deep appreciation for those who serve our country and put their lives on the line to protect our freedoms. As a civilian, it’s hard to comprehend the sacrifices these brave men and women make, who go without hesitation into places where they face ambushes at every turn, where a child can be just as dangerous as a soldier, and where isolation from loved ones can be months, if not years. If you want a lesson on sacrifice, sit down with a veteran.
According to Veterans, Inc., there are approximately 22.5 million veterans in the United States. On any given night, more than 300,000 veterans are living in the streets or in shelters here in our nation. According to the Homeless Research Institute, veterans represent 11% of the adult civilian population, but 26% of the homeless population. Sadly, veterans are twice as likely as other Americans to become chronically homeless.
An organization that knows these statistics well, but is serving as a local solution to help our disabled and homeless veterans with the social services needed to reintegrate them back into society is Alpha Omega Veterans Services (AOVS). Established in 1987 by Ola Mae Ransom, a mother with two sons who served in Vietnam and were both diagnosed with debilitating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, AOVS has now served more than 10,000 veterans in their 29 years of work.
AOVS services include providing food, clothing, shelter, counseling, and referrals for training in vocational, educational, and job placement programs. They currently are equipped to help 122 veterans through their permanent and transitional housing at various locations throughout Memphis. Locations include apartments, townhomes, private residence homes, a 30-day transitional home, and a Life House where palliative and hospice care is provided to medically fragile and end of life veterans. The organization also provides mobile outreach and other support services out in the community.
One veteran shares AOVS’ impact, “Alpha Omega has brought me from homeless to home owner. They took me off the streets. Helped me become sober and gave me a reason to stay sober. I now work for one of the largest hotel chains in the country…” Learn more about AOVS and how you can help by visiting AlphaOmegaVeterans.org.