Collaborating around the state
I had a pleasant surprise when I picked up the paper Sunday morning and read two stories about Veterans and those helping them in Austin. These are good examples of the way that Texas Veteran Service Organizations can get together to leverage the strengths of both.
First, over in "Metro & State", Esther Robards-Forbes wrote about the Texas Association of Vietnam Veterans and their program of collecting and providing furniture to Veterans that receive HUD/VASH vouchers. This is a good program of the VA which helps put a Veteran into a decent place to live. The problem comes when they actually move in and realize that there is no furniture. Nothing - not even a chair, not even a bed. The TAVV has been working this issue informally for some time. Sean Hanna, the state coordinator for MVPN even worked to find them a place to store furniture at one point. Now, working with the City of Austin Veterans Service Office (another amazing idea, and supported by a OneStar / Americorps collaboration) they were able to call for volunteers and furnish fifteen places in one weekend. This is new capacity made possible by smart groups working together.
Speaking of the City of Austin Veteran Service Office, the mayor that helped get this all going - Air Force Vet Lee Leffingwell is quoted as part of a challenge to local businesses to step up and fund the next Honor Flight Austin. This program helps the Veterans of World War II fly to Washington D.C. to see the memorial erected in their honor. It has only been open a few years and many Veterans did not have a chance to see it. One local company has donated $10,000 against the next flight cost. Honor Flight Austin is looking for $120,000 to send 120 Veterans to DC.
Speaking of working together - I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the Lone Star Military Vehicle Preservation Association, featured club on the car page. And speaking of a whirlwind collaborator (when anyone can keep up with her) - we are following the adventures of MVPN's own Tish McCullough who is attending the VFW National Conference and making a great show for Texas with newly elected leaders Sylvia Sanchez, Joe Hayes, and Dan West.