Putting veterans on Solid Ground

vets-dayMany of Solid Ground’s services support U.S. veterans in overcoming barriers to stability and living healthy lives.

While we are unable to collect demographic information on all program participants, the data we have shows that over the past year, more than 139 vets have accessed our Tenant Services program for help understanding their responsibilities and rights as tenants. Among the topics most discussed were info on rights and responsibilities, housing search and barriers, repairs, evictions, deposits and Fair Housing issues.

Two dozen vets have worked with our Mortgage Counselors to better understand and make informed choices about foreclosures; 23 more accessed reverse mortgage counseling. Seven vets have worked one-on-one with our Financial Fitness Boot Camp Coach.

Seattle/King County is part of a national movement to house all homeless veterans by Dec 31, 2015. According to All Home, our community has housed 717 veterans, with only 37 chronically homeless vets remaining to be housed.

Solid Ground’s Sand Point Housing Campus is currently home to 14 veterans in transitional and permanent housing. The Veterans Program at St. Vincent DePaul, American Legion Auxiliary #227 and other area groups provide support, mentorship and community for our veteran residents.

In addition, we provided financial support to stabilize housing to 105 veteran-led families living on low or very low incomes.

Solid Ground also connects vets to volunteer service opportunities through RSVP (Retired & Senior Volunteer Program) of King County. This year, RSVP is recognizing 15 local members who are veterans. The Corporation for National & Community Service designed a beautiful pin, which we will send to each of them along with a letter of gratitude for their service. It states:

The 15 veterans currently serving as RSVP volunteers have provided 3,802 hours of service over the last year, supporting food banks, adult day programs, tutoring and early childhood education programs and other nonprofits.

“This Veteran’s Day, November 11th, the Corporation for National & Community Service is honored to recognize you for serving our country through Senior Corps’ RSVP (Retired & Senior Volunteer Program) of King County. As a veteran you have played a vital role in protecting our freedom and way of life and for that we are grateful.”

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Saluting a local hero: Len Langford

Housing Advocate to the Stars, Len Langford!

Housing Advocate to the Stars, Len Langford!

Editor’s note: We don’t often take the time to acknowledge people on the frontlines of Solid Ground’s efforts to help people thrive. Last week one of our best and brightest retired, Housing Advocate Len Langford. If you care about ending poverty, helping people access affordable housing, and fighting the good fight, you should read what one of his colleagues and dear friends, Karen Ford, had to say about Len. God bless you, Len. Wherever you go next, we know you will shine!

It was my great honor to sit on Len Langford’s interview committee over 14 years ago. Immediately his intelligence and humor shone through and we were all
enchanted. Len was more than qualified for the housing advocate position with his extensive and worldly experience but he also possessed something more intangible – a rare charm that we sensed both clients and landlords would relate to – and they did.

Len was JourneyHome’s first in-house housing advocate, and through the years he steadily and skillfully housed hundreds of homeless families, many with significant barriers to housing that he would somehow convince even the most wary landlord to take a chance on. So now Len is in theory…retiring… at least from Solid Ground! But he has done this retiring thing before (retired Navy Vietnam veteran ((2 tours of duty)), retired Coast Guard officer, retired long-term care facility director/administrator, retired Seattle Housing Authority manager), so given what Len has already done, I’m looking forward to seeing what amazing thing he will decide to do in the next chapter of his life. Whatever it is, he will do it with the same compassion, wisdom, humor and care that he has so graciously shared with all the clients, landlords and colleagues he has worked with.

Len’s JourneyHome email signature says “Housing Advocate to the Stars,” and he always will say humbly that he “is here to serve” (and he does!), but in truth, it is Len who is a brilliant, unique and shining star. Thank you Len for all you are – I, and so many others, love you dearly!

Memorial statue unveiled

This post is a follow up to our 4/5/12 post, Help honor a local fallen hero. A large number of Solid Ground’s Seattle Personal Transit (SPT) program drivers and passengers are U.S. veterans – and a disproportionate number of homeless adults in King County are vets. SPT ACCESS van driver Dick Clements, a U.S. Army veteran, shared these photos and details about the unveiling of a memorial statue in honor of U.S. Army Spc. Mikayla A. Bragg.

Mikayla Bragg Memorial Statue

Mikayla Bragg Memorial Statue

On Wednesday June 6, 2012, a memorial statue was unveiled in a ceremony in honor of U.S. Army Specialist Mikayla A. Bragg of Longview,WA, who was killed in action on December 21, 2011 in Knowst Province in southern Afghanistan at the age of 21. The statue was placed in an outdoor courtyard next to the History Department at Mark Morris High School in Longview, where Mikayla graduated in 2008.

The statue, called the Battlefield Soldier’s Cross, depicts a pair of boots with a rifle standing on its end, barrel down, with a helmet resting on the butt end of the rifle. Cast in bronze, it has a bronze plaque at its base featuring Mikayla’s picture and service information.

During the unveiling, a replica of a Civil War blanket given to fallen union troops was presented to Mikayla’s family by the Patriot Guard Motorcycle Club. SPT driver Dick Clements reports, “We of the Black Horse Regimental Motorcycle Club inducted Mikayla into the Black Horse honorarily.”

According to veteran Kristopher North, who spearheaded the memorial statue project, “Generations of students will be able to see this memorial on a daily basis and know that not only was this one of our own but, that Freedom isn’t Free.”

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Help honor a local fallen hero

A large number of Solid Ground’s Seattle Personal Transit (SPT) program drivers and passengers are U.S. veterans. The suggestion for this post was submitted by SPT ACCESS van driver Dick Clements, who is also a U.S. Army veteran.

U.S. Army Specialist Mikayla Bragg

U.S. Army Specialist Mikayla Bragg

U.S. Army Specialist Mikayla Bragg of Longview, WA was killed in action on December 21, 2011 in Knowst Province in southern Afghanistan. A decorated veteran, her honors included the Good Conduct Medal, the Unit Citation and the Afghanistan Campaign Medal. According to a January 7, 2012 article by John Markon in The Daily News Online, “She is the first Longview soldier, sailor or airman to die in a combat zone since the late days of the Vietnam War.” Mikayla was 21 years old.

A group of veterans and friends are working to raise money to erect a memorial statue in honor of Mikayla to be placed at the Mark Morris High School in Longview, from where she graduated.

If you would like to donate to the creation of this statue, please send a check, payable to the Mikayla Bragg Memorial Fund, to: 

Fibre Credit Union
Mikayla Bragg Memorial Fund
P.O. Box 1234
Longview, WA 98632

SPT driver and U.S. Army vet Dick Clements and other Mikayla Bragg supporters send heartfelt thanks to the Solid Ground community for any contributions that are made toward this memorial statue.

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