Bringing Homeless U.S. Veterans Back In

Bringing Homeless U.S. Veterans Back In

US Vets Joe Czyzyk, Chairman and CEO of Mercury Air Group, appreciates the progress U.S.VETS is making toward assisting homeless veterans. Due to the good work and strong mission of U.S.VETS, Joe has spent eight years on the organization’s National Board of Directors and currently chairs the Board.

U.S.VETS, headquartered in Los Angeles, is a successful 20-year old organization that has only one mission, according to Joe – to take in homeless veterans off the streets and bring them into a U.S.VETS housing facility. Once sheltered, the well-experienced staff of 540 can assist them with their issues and support their re-entry into a normal existence.

Joe CzyzykOutreach staff approaches homeless people under bridges and freeway overpasses or living in cars, asking if the person is a vet. Many don’t say so at first as they may have had bad experiences, so it takes time. U.S.VETS also has a large website with which to reach people and has a specific portal for women vets with homeless and trauma issues.

“Importantly, U.S.VETS is a transition organization. Our goal is to get the veterans in and get them out… back out into society,” says Joe.

U.S.VETS has 23 locations around the country. Every night, 5,000 plus veterans and family members are in one of the facilities. But 5,000 is only the tip of the iceberg, according to Joe.

“The exact number of homeless veterans isn’t known. It could be as much as 20% of the entire homeless population in the U.S. And many don’t come in easily. They struggle with denial or pride, while suffering from PTSD.”

The staff helps the veterans work through their challenges with counseling, housing, and career development. According to Joe, the staff does great work in all areas. The number

of people the organization can serve is greatly expanding. U.S. VETS was recently awarded a Veterans Administration RFP to build a facility housing 1,900 people on the West Los Angeles VA grounds. The organization is also partnering with the City of Houston on a facility with 1,200 beds and another one is being constructed in the Washington DC area with over 1,000 rooms. Four other facilities are in construction; two in San Bernardino, one in Riverside, and one in Ventura.

What is important to Joe is that an abundance of the funds raised comes from private corporations and foundations. The only government funding are the dwelling vouchers for each veteran from the VA.

“We are not a burden on any government organization or the taxpayers as we are a private charity,” says Joe.

Joe is a Vietnam veteran and when he returned home in the late 1960s, everyone had a home and family to return to. Ten years ago at Fort Hood, Texas, Joe talked with vets returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan. Some had no one to pick them up, no homes or families to go back to. They most likely became homeless.

“I observed that existing problems came to light upon discharge. Many vets come back with injuries, physical and mental, predisposing them to homelessness. I decided assisting them had become part of my duty.”


Go to top