Returning to civilian life is tough for most veterans. Many find themselves suffering from mental health issues, struggling to access healthcare, jobs, and ultimately, homes.
After putting their lives on the line, our veterans deserve to live good lives. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case for many of them, so a non-profit in Kansas City, Missouri, decided to take action.
The Veterans Community Project (VCP), founded by Chris Stout, an Army veteran; Kevin Jamison, a Marine veteran; and Mark Solomon, a Navy reservist, built a small city comprised of 49 tiny homes.
The location covers just a few blocks of Kansas City and provides free living to veterans in need of a home.
Each house is between 240 to 320 square feet. It’s small, but every home meets local zoning laws and has full utilities. These tiny houses allow veterans to break away from homelessness and transition into a life where their basic needs are met.
These houses come with all the essentials—a bed to sleep in, a bathroom, a kitchen, and a small living space. It’s just enough to make a person feel at home.
The great thing about this initiative is that when the veteran is ready to move out, they have the option to take all the appliances they want with them. Every time a new veteran moves in, the house is refurbished with new appliances.
Veterans are also allowed to live with their dogs, making the community more fun and welcoming. Since many of them own dogs, there’s a lot of cute furry friends to play with and pet in the neighborhood. The VCP’s founders say that dogs help create an even greater sense of community in the area.
This project wouldn’t be possible without the assistance of volunteers. In fact, the VCP estimates that 70% of the city was built by them.
The non-profit also trains case managers to help veterans succeed in different aspects of their lives. They work with them on health and well-being, financial literacy, finding employment, and establishing a personal support network. Since many veterans return from their tours with little to no support, this project component is truly life-changing for many of them.
“This isn’t just an opportunity to get a couple of months and then you’re back in an apartment or something like that,” Wes Williams, the director of veterans services at VCP, said. “This is really an opportunity for you to take a deep breath, exhale, and learn how to dream again.”
The founders of the VCP are focused on improving the lives of veterans in the Missouri area. In Kansas City alone, they have the VCP Village and The Veteran Outreach Center, where veterans can seek help in claiming their benefits, accessing food pantries, getting referrals for mental and physical health services, and many other types of support.
The veterans who have lived in the VCP Village said that it has truly changed their lives. The material assistance given to them is wonderful, but more than that, the emotional support and kindness they’ve been receiving through this program has significantly impacted them as well.
Here’s what one veteran said about living in the community:
“I’ve never had anyone do anything for me. I’ve always been the one to do for my family and my friends – but this is incredible…Now how blessed can you be in this life?”
Helping veterans get back on their feet is a worthy cause that should be replicated across the country. Hopefully, we get to see more initiatives like this in other cities.
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To learn more about this non-profit amazing project, please take time to watch the video below: