Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg said the Kansas City-based Veterans Community Project is “deeply impressive” during a campaign visit Wednesday morning. The nonprofit offers a range of veteran services, including temporary housing assistance.
“I’m going to be sharing this story everywhere I go,” he said after touring the VCP Village, where homeless veterans can live temporarily in a “tiny house.”
Buttigieg visited VCP after hosting a fundraising event in Kansas City Tuesday night. He is the first 2020 presidential candidate to campaign in Kansas City.
“I’m thrilled to have had the chance to see this,” Buttigieg said. “It’s got me full of ideas for my own home community in South Bend and for the country at a time when everybody’s talking about how we support the troops, but we’re still struggling to make good on that mutual promise across the United States.”
During his visit, he met with representatives of the organization and local politicians. Buttigieg then toured the village and one of the homes before speaking with veterans who live in the community.
He said the VCP has “cracked the code on what it takes to connect veterans” with much-needed resources.
Buttigieg has served as the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, since 2012 and was a U.S. Navy Reserve lieutenant from 2009 to 2017. In 2014, he was deployed to Afghanistan for seven months.
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas and former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander joined Buttigeig on his tour of the tiny house village.
“I think this [visit] is a reflection of how great this organization is,” Lucas said.
Kander also served in Afghanistan and has spoken publicly about experiencing depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. He recently joined the Veterans Community Project to help expand it to other cities.
“[I] found myself really inspired by the approach this place takes, which is essentially just saying yes first,” Kander said. “Looking at veterans and saying, ‘We’re not going to ask you a bunch of questions about your eligibility. We’re just going to make sure that we help you.'”
Buttigieg said the units he served in have not been immune to post-traumatic stress disorder and, in some cases, suicide.
“It’s a reminder that when someone agrees to serve our country, when they enter a conflict, often that conflict follows them home,” he said. “Often, it follows them long after they’ve left the military. And it’s another reason why we need to make sure we’re doing everything we can.”
Buttigieg said the Veterans Community Project has the ability to fill the gaps and help veterans in ways the government has not.
“It unites that huge reserve of goodwill to specific things people can do on the ground to make a difference and do right by those who put their lives on the line for this country,” he said.