Homeless Indiana veterans receive boost with backpacks full of essentials

INDIANAPOLIS – Hoosier veterans who are homeless or at-risk received a boost Tuesday.

Members of the Rotary Club of Indianapolis started distributing 180 backpacks they filled with essential daily items at the Hoosier Veteran Assistance Foundation (HVAF).

“There’s a lot of homeless vets out there,” said veteran Michael Vann. “Fell on hard times, not enough earning income to support themselves.”

Vann was shopping at the HVAF pantry Tuesday. He said he recently found a new job with help from employment counselors at the organization.

“A lot of our homeless veterans that come into HVAF, they lack the support system needed to overcome their situation,” said Lauren Carpenter.

That’s the importance, advocates say, of providing a foundation of support.

“We’re focused on homeless,” said Michael Schiele, a member of the Rotary Club of Indianapolis. “We’re focused on people who need assistance to get back on their feet.”

Congress is also working to meet the need nationwide.

Last week the U.S. House approved millions in funding through grants for homeless veterans targeting job training and counseling. And the U.S. Senate sent President Trump the major bipartisan VA bill, making it easier for all veterans to access private doctors. The Congressional Budget Office estimates hundreds-of-thousands of veterans will be able to seek medical care outside the VA system.

“Easier access to private care, eliminating some of the kinks that have been involved in the start of that,” Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) said while visiting HVAF Tuesday.

The rotary club has partnered with HVAF before. Organizers vow to continue to the partnerships to assist hundreds of homeless veterans reported to be living in Indianapolis alone.

“I’m a veteran myself,” Schiele said. “So this is really special for me.”

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