While its Veterans Day dinner on Wednesday evening will be virtual, staff at the veterans services group Swords to Plowshares have been reaching out to and providing help for veterans in person at drop-in centers and on the street in San Francisco.
In addition to some 400 veterans it had already housed permanently, the organization has been able to secure temporary stays in hotel rooms for about 200 people during the pandemic, said executive director Michael Blecker. Swords to Plowshares also offers mental health support, advocates for veterans whose discharge status makes it difficult for them to access services, and helps veterans find well-paying jobs.
“We’ve reduced the number of homeless veterans on the street dramatically: 35% in the last year, perhaps 50% since 2012, 2013. And we’ve done it by using federal dollars, because you know, the local government is really strapped for cash.”— Michael Blecker