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  • Kelly Seward

The Planes are Circling

Since mid-March, more than 26 million Americans have lost their jobs due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of the unemployed Veterans we’ve met feel blindsided; they’re barreling down a road they never thought they’d have to travel. Every day they are facing

new, impossible decisions: Do I pay utilities or rent? Do I refill my prescription or buy groceries? Basic needs are sacrificed for other basic needs.

At Veterans Community Project, the basic need that drives everything we do is housing. We passionately believe that anyone who took the oath to protect our homes shouldn’t be without one themselves. Given the current economic climate, many Veterans are at risk of becoming homeless over the coming months. It’s our turn to protect them.

Earlier this year, members of the Kansas Air National Guard 190th Air Refueling Wing spent the day volunteering in VCP Village. Their mission is to fly the KC-135 Stratotanker and provide in-flight fueling world-wide.

As the crew explained, the difficult work of “siphoning gas going 300 miles per hour” belongs to the pilot of the receiving plane. He or she must approach the tanker at the right speed and position, establish a secure connection with the tanker’s boom, and fly in formation against turbulence while the transfer completes.

The tanker not only extends the range of the receiving plane, it ultimately conserves its fuel; the receiving pilot doesn’t have to seek a runway and land in the middle of a mission.

Veterans struggling with the side effects of a global pandemic are much like an aircraft approaching the end of its range. These men and women are running out of fuel, hope, and ideas and need a tanker to help keep them in the air.

On May 4th, Veterans Community Project will officially launch the COVID Response Program for Stabilization (CORPS). This program combines emergency assistance funds with our proven case management model to help Veterans mitigate the risk of homelessness and identify opportunities for success.

For some, a positive, uphill trajectory will be triggered by a single opportunity for assistance. A minimal financial investment can carry a Veteran through the end of his or her furlough period or to the beginning of a new job.

For those who require more than a basic “assist,” we will tailor a case management program based on each Veteran’s unique set of strengths and weaknesses. Additional support may include job skills training, financial literacy classes, or coordinated aid from our trusted partner agencies.

Much like aerial refueling, the cost and energy required to keep a Veteran housed is far less than that required to overcome the trauma of an eviction or foreclosure. Once each Veteran stabilizes, our team will track his or her trajectory for the next 12 months to ensure a safe (and sustainable) landing.

Our current emergency assistance budget was created before COVID-19 was on our collective radars; it cannot bear the weight of the upcoming needs. We anticipate visits to the Veterans Outreach Center quadrupling over the next 3 months and the ripple effect of unemployment continuing throughout the year.

This is where you come in, friends. We are essentially flying with a few buddy tanks and need a Stratotanker. The tanker’s fuel capacity is 200,000 pounds which is coincidentally almost the amount of our COVID-revised emergency assistance budget ($2500,000).

Every dollar you can give will help fill the tank and make a meaningful impact on a Veteran’s life.

Please consider donating in honor of someone who helped you when you needed it the most. Maybe was a parent who slipped you a twenty when your car was on fumes, a grandmother who covered a bill you couldn’t pay, or a soldier who shared his care packages when you had none.

The planes are circling and it’s time to lower the boom.


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