The Vancouver Island Run for Homeless Vets is coming up. It’s a motorcycle ride that raises money for organizations that help homeless military veterans.
The ride meets at the OK Tire in Duncan, just after 9 am with engines firing at 11. From there they’ll hop over the Malahat to their final destination at Legion Branch 91 in Langford.
It’s a personal cause for organizer Thea Squire who says she has a lot of friends who are ex-military and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Squire says she came up with the idea with her husband after riding in a few other rides for causes over the last several years.
“I was sitting there thinking about it with my husband and we literally run for everything,” says Squire. “There’s lots and lots of news stories about our vets and it really pissed me off. […] I went, ‘Okay how is it that we run for everything, and yet nobody seems to be doing much for our vets?'”
Squire has been talking to lots of veterans organizations, spreading the word, and has heard a lot of stories about homeless veterans and the issues they face. She says veterans affairs organizations aren’t even able to put an exact figure on how many veterans are experiencing homelessness.
“Kind of one of the problems with this group is they’re so proud they don’t go into the Salvation Army and say they’re a vet, more that they’re just down on their luck,” says Squire.
“It’s not like they’re all dealing with addictions. [That’s not] why they’re on the street. They’ve served and now they’re suffering from mental problems,” says Squire. “I kind of assumed they come out and have this pension and they all get taken care of, but that’s not true. They’re given funds depending on how long they’ve served. So if they’ve only got five years […] it’s not like they’re coming out of service with a loaded pension.”
Funds from the ride will be mostly going to Cockrell House in Colwood and a portion to Homes For Heroes.
Cockrell House is a transitional house for military veterans who have fallen on hard times and are looking for a fresh start. It has been helping vets by providing shelter, counseling, life skills, and more services. It’s run by volunteers and mainly funded by the Legion and other veteran organizations.
Homes for Heroes is an organization that builds tiny homes for vets in Alberta. Each home is less than 300 square feet but has all the amenities of an average house. They’re built in villages that also provide counseling, a community garden, and other community amenities.
“Most of the money is going to go to Cockrell House because Homes for Heroes are around, but they’re not on the Island right now. They’re trying to come to the Island, they’re just not here yet,” says Squire. “Part of the funds are going to go to them to help bring them here, essentially.”
Squire says a $25 donation would be appreciated and that includes a barbecue lunch at the Legion after the ride.