Amazon donation helps connect over 1,000 homeless veterans

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Recently, Amazon donated smartphones to over 1,000 homeless veterans, keeping them connected to valuable community and VA resources.

Marine Corps Veteran Jason Mayclutter, who lives in Santa Cruz, California, is one of them. Taking pictures of the ocean and the surf while posting them for his family and friends on social media has allowed him to stay in touch with family.

Leveraging the capabilities of a smart device to take photos, connect on social media, have a video chat, or have a virtual doctor’s appointment may seem trite in this age of technology.gy, but for some veterans like cucumber, this connection was only possible recently, thanks to the VHA Homelessness Program office and a donation from Amazon.

So far it has provided more than 1,100 cell phones to veterans engaged in Hav‘s Homeless Programs, as well as a period of prepaid service that beneficiaries could continue if they choose.

The phones were distributed via VA medical centers in Battle Creek, Michigan; Boston, MA; Kansas City, Missouri; Las Vegas, NV; Palo Alto, California; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Like many creative solutions, the cell phone program was born out of necessity: Veterans living in community housing or other group settings were relocated to homes. quarantine To try to slow down the spread of the pandemic, and go providers and veterans need a way to stay connected.

Scott Maycumber in Santa Cruz, California (retrieved from his phone).

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, Amazon’s donation has allowed veterans engaged in homeless programs to stay in touch with their caregivers and support systems, especially in cases where social distancing and quarantine limited access to face-to-face services and telecommunication resources, ”said Nicole Harelik, National Coordinator, Office of Analysis and Operational Intelligence, Office of the VHA Homeless Program . “We have received so much positive feedback from frontline staff about how these phones have helped maintain relationships, boost morale, and in some cases save lives.The VHA National Homelessness Program Office is extremely grateful for our partnership with Amazon and for their generosity to the veterans we serve.

Peter Voystock, a program for the homeless vsase mmanager in Philadelphia who works with the veterans struggling with unemployment and mental illness, found phones to be invaluable in maintaining contact. Voystock was able to stay in constant contact with veterans who have received those Phone (s in order to support lodging services and well-being checks.

It has been an incredible help in overcoming communication barriers for some of our most vulnerable Veterans.,” he said.

More than just a connection

Keeping in touch with VA was definitely one of the goals of the program., bBut the additional impacts of being able to maintain connections during the pandemic have been immeasurable. Without access to these phones, social connectivity provided through mobile devices and services would not be available to these veterans in need.

An elderly veteran receiving services from the Housing and Urban Development – Veterans Supporting Housing (HUD-VASH) program in Philadelphia was “very grateful” to receive her phone, says social worker Jill Mullin. Living alone for the first time in many years, he was nervous that he couldn’t contact anyone for help.

“When he found out he could get a free phone he was really grateful. He actually had some tears in his eyes-eyes saying Thank you and assured me: “I will take care of it well” ” Mullin said. Ee donated phone helped reduce her stress, feelings of isolation, and providead far for him To to stay in contact with his social worker and his family during his move.

“I think it also helped him feel taken care of”, Mullin added.

The veteran uses his tech-enabled smartphone to call and make appointments with VA, but also to keep in touch with family and friends, like his son in Iowa and a cousin he recently called. by video. “I hadn’t seen her for 30 years! noted cucumber.

For more information on VA’s homeless programs and services, click here.

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