The date of my enlistment will never expire. The oath I took I swore to leave no soldier behind; to make sure all soldiers are accounted for and no soldier who served in the United States military be put in harms way will be maintained for life. So far, I have been marginalized because to complete my mission, funding is needed and collaborations with organizations that will work together and intentionally get our boys and girls off the streets…I am truly troubled and my head hangs low on today, Memorial Day 2015.
By Don Allen, Publisher –Our Black News
Today is the day we pay tribute to those who have fallen and given the ultimate sacrifice to the United States of America. In Minnesota we hold events all across the state to honor, remember and salute warriors who wore the uniform with pride, respect and honor. Today is also the day we should be concerned about those who will not have a warm bed, a roof over their heads or a place they can call home. Today, we must be very concerned about the possibility of the walking dead; Minnesota’s homeless veteran population, warriors stuck in a purgatory of need, ignored by those who hold the controlling means of getting our warriors off the streets and giving a voice to the voiceless; a home to the homeless, creating stability where there is none.
Minnesota’s homeless veterans might not read this letter, but my goal is to let those who control the flow of equity that I will not give up; I will not be mislead, swayed or marginalized because I speak in the public sphere about catastrophic malfeasance in focusing on all homeless veterans, men and women; yellow, red, black and white who need someone to advocate for this cause that has become my passion, hope and dream.
Please understand, to complete the mission of putting homeless veterans in stable housing takes money. Between 2013 and 2015 millions of dollars were distributed to agencies, some obscure, to come up with a plan. The plan, rather than purchasing hundreds of vacant homes in Minneapolis and St. Paul was to start a Homeless Veterans Registry. While this idea is key to create a database of homeless veterans in Minnesota, it still lacks the action plan of getting veterans into housing, stable and back to a regiment of work, education, addressing health care concerns and tending to addiction challenges, boldly connected to focusing on the overall veterans well-being.
The Minnesota Homeless Veteran Registry should ensure that Veterans experiencing homelessness have access to appropriate housing and services. But there has been some significant rejection of veterans of color and agencies who serve these veterans. In other word, the historical rejection of the black body who wore green has evolved into racist construct that has denied me and other black people a place at the table, funding or culturally competent engagement.
I have pulled together some amazing organizations: WellSpring Second Chance, an agency with the means to collaborate with veterans on their own terms and evaluate human needs; Wilson Image Barbers Community Training Initiative, a nonprofit that has a Veterans Grooming Project to make sure all veterans have haircuts with beauticians to style female veterans also. Drop Out To Drop Ins, an agency that will focus on education and families of veterans to make sure the sons and daughter of Minnesota’s homeless veterans are in school, learning and successful. New Perspectives Housing Alliances, a new nonprofit agency that was virtually ignored by those who control funding, but wanted to start the process of focusing on homeless veterans, purchasing, and renting housing in the Twin Cities and immediately placing veterans into homes with a program that sought sustainability for all homeless veterans. There is also the Council on Black Minnesotans, whose board and executive director are willing to be the fiscal oversight for all the organizations.
Then you have me. Yes, this is my passion, but isn’t it important to be supported, like a job with my focus on planning, implementing and collaborating with local agencies building bridges, connecting people to services and feeling good at the end of the day.
It’s time to take this to the next level. I have prepared several data requests to analyze the construct in control of funding mechanisms in Minnesota to assist homeless veterans. I understand why the black veteran and those who support them is still marginalized and lays within the walls of a building on Kellogg Street in St. Paul Minnesota.