A Kansas City nonprofit that helps connect homeless veterans with housing and jobs held a “stand down” Friday outside the World War I Museum and Memorial.
“We have an extraordinarily high homeless population,” says Art Fillmore, founder and co-chairman of Heart of America Stand Down. “A couple of years ago, it was up to around 1,700 homeless veterans.”
Fillmore says while city and county leaders have been proactive in addressing homelessness, that number is mostly going down as Vietnam veterans die.
He says many veterans of recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan face a difficult transition back to civilian life. Stand Down can help with whatever they need, whether it’s “clothing, haircuts or massages.”
“We have 70 social service agencies inside to help them with housing, with jobs,” Fillmore says. “We have a medical MASH unit to take care of their medical needs. We really give them the tools to get off the streets if they so chose.”
Several politicians attended Friday’s event, including Jackson County Executive Frank White and U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder.
“It’s an opportunity to remember those who have served our country and paid the ultimate sacrifice. One of the ways we honor them is ensuring we take care of the veterans who made it back,” Yoder says.
Elle Moxley is a reporter for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.