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Joyce Endee

Soldier On's inspirational leader to speak in Plymouth

Community members from Plymouth and surrounding towns recently visited Soldier On's Veterans Housing Facility in Pittsfield, Mass. and met with President and CEO Jack Downing. Downing will speak at the Common Man Inn in Plymouth on Wednesday, Jan. 11 at 6:30 p.m., and the public is welcome to attend. (Courtesy) (click for larger version)
January 04, 2012
REGION—Jack Downing is the driving force behind one of the nation's most successful initiatives to meet the challenge of meeting combat veterans' need for supportive, affordable housing so that they can create healthy and successful lives back here at home after returning from their service to our country.

Each day in this country, there are an estimated 275,000 homeless veterans in need of basic shelter and the opportunity to have a stable environment to call home as they grapple with some of the challenges of post-combat stress and related issues, including addiction and alcoholism.

Soldier On exists to come to their assistance by providing a permanent living situation and the services they need to successfully transition to a better life.

The "housing first" philosophy of the founders of the program is a hallmark of their successful approach, which, in partnership with the Department of Veteran Affairs, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and other federal, state and local partners, has spawned a growing number of limited equity cooperative apartment facilities for veterans across the country.

In the past year, an ad hoc group of community members from Plymouth and the surrounding area have come together to organize a response to the critical need to expand veterans' housing and support services here in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire. They have recently decided to partner with Soldier On in establishing a veterans supportive community here in the local area, and have sought out expertise and guidance from the folks who have created a proven model for success.

As part of the local veterans' initiative, on Wednesday, Jan. 11, at 6:30 p.m. at the Common Man Inn in Plymouth, Soldier On President and CEO, Jack Downing, will meet with organizing committee members and interested members of the public. He will speak about the prospects for "changing the end of the story" for our worthy, local veterans here in the Lakes Region.

Downing is a forceful and dynamic speaker with a lot to say about one of the most pressing issues of our time. He talks his own personal sense of responsibility to do everything he can to provide services and security for those member of the armed forces who, by signing up to serve their country, were willing to die to protect our security back at home, and are now in need of our help.

Downing says returning combat veterans are disproportionately represented in the homeless population in the United States. While veterans make up some nine percent of the total population, they make up 30 percent of the homeless population.

"The fight doesn't end when they get home," says Downing.

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