Why We Do It
We help veterans who are unable, for a variety of reasons, to seek assistance elsewhere. Mental health problems, including addiction, are considered diseases by the medical establishment. However, many symptoms associated with behavioral illnesses –including domestic violence, drunk driving and drug use – have major legal and social consequences, unlike the symptoms of, say, heart disease or diabetes. Because of the zero-tolerance policy put in place by the Department of Defense (DOD) and enforced by random drug tests, most addicts are extracted from active service with other-than-honorable discharges or even criminal charges. They leave the military without the benefits of honorably discharged personnel. (National Institute of Drug Abuse) They face financial hardships in addition to their psychological and addiction-related problems. They are often stymied in their hunt for a job because of their discharge status, as well as any legal charges they may have garnered. That often leads to deeper depression, more complex psychological issues, self-isolation and increased substance abuse. The cycle goes until many of our brave veterans are reduced to death or homelessness.
The number of homeless veterans on a given night in Summit County Ohio nearly doubled from 2010 to 2013, according to the U.S. government’s “Point in Time” report, which measures homelessness in a random 24-hour period. Although the numbers have dropped slightly, veterans without a home are still legion.
On any given night, about 50,000 veterans of the U.S. military have no place to rest their heads. About 1.4 million other veterans, meanwhile, are considered at risk of homelessness.
At Wheels4Change, we’re working hard to change things, by reaching out to vets directly, improving their health and self-esteem through physical fitness and assessing their skills for job training and placement through our bike program. But we need your help to move forward.