Chicago Sports Stars join VA to end Veteran Homelessness
Professional Chicago athletes and more than 70 community, government and faith-based organizations recently joined the Hines VA Hospital and the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center in kicking off a huge initiative to end homelessness among Veterans in Chicago.
Last October, VA launched a campaign in Chicago called “One Team Chicago…Joining Forces to Defeat Veteran Homelessness.” The campaign focuses on uniting all the right "players" in the fight to end Veteran homelessness.
Representatives from the Chicago Bulls, Chicago Blackhawks and Chicago White Sox were present at the kick-off to help VA launch One Team Chicago.
Chicago sports legends Sidney Green, Denis Savard and Minnie Minoso joined VA to launch the initiative.
“The words ‘homeless' and ‘Veteran' should never be in the same sentence,” said former Chicago Bull Sidney Green, who spoke at the kickoff.
Green, who was with the Bulls in the mid-1980s, was brought together with Savard, who played with the Blackhawks in the 1980s and mid-1990s, and Minoso, a White Sox star leftfielder starting in the 1950s, for the effort. All three players were thrilled to join with VA to support ending homelessness among Veterans in the Chicago area.
Savard surprised everyone at the event when he announced that the Savard Foundation was pledging to donate $5,000 to the cause.
Immediately following the kick-off, the various agencies involved met to develop a "game plan" for One Team Chicago to address the issues of homeless Veterans.
“VA's goal is to end Veteran homelessness once and for all,” said Michael Anaya, Director of the Jesse Brown VAMC. “To accomplish this goal, we need the entire Chicago community to join together to get our Veterans off the streets. Combining the resources and expertise of community, government, and faith-based organizations in the area allows us to organize our efforts more effectively,” he said.
“After putting their lives on the line in service to our country, our Veterans deserve the best support and assistance that we can provide,” said Sharon Helman, Hines Director.
VA's Under Secretary for Health, Dr. Robert Petzel, was also present at the kick-off.
“Those who have served this nation as Veterans should never find themselves on the streets, living without care and without hope,” Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki said recently in launching VA's program to end homelessness.
He noted that 28 communities, from Atlanta to Hawaii, hosted special programs this past fall, highlighting local services for homeless Veterans, their families and those at risk of becoming homeless.
He added, “Working with our partners in state and local government, the non-profit and the private sectors, we can restore our homeless Veterans and their families to the lives of dignity they've earned.”
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