U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt said he is encouraged by the work a Kansas City-based nonprofit is doing to tackle veteran homelessness across the country.
Former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander recently joined the Veterans Community Project (VCP), which has helped thousands of individuals in Kansas City, as it plans to expand to serve other locations across the country by 2022. A former Army intelligence officer, Kander has been outspoken about his personal battle with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
With its expansion, VCP plans to establish communities of tiny homes and on-site services for veterans in other locations across the U.S., including in St. Louis. Blunt, a Republican, praised his former political rival for his work with a “really worthy project.”
“If you’re a troubled veteran or somebody else with a mental health issue you’re dealing with, when you reach out and ask for help, somebody needs to be there to help you at the time you reach out,” Blunt told The Missouri Times after he toured VCP Friday. “This veterans group is dedicated to that, and I look forward to continuing to encourage them here and hope they do well in their efforts to look out at other cities in the country.”
“If you pay attention at all, you’re going to learn something when you sit down with a veteran or a group of veterans and talk about the challenges the face. The importance of having that individual unit that clearly you’re comfortable in — you feel like you’re in a safe and secure place as you begin to think about what you’re going to do next — makes a lot of sense to me,” Blunt, 69, continued. “Efforts to reach out to veterans, to be more responsive to veterans who are thinking about harming themselves, to get veterans more choices in healthcare are among the biggest issues we’re dealing with right now.”
So far, VCP has served thousands of veterans in the Kansas City area — from guiding individuals through the VA process to introducing people to community resources — since its creation in 2016. It has also created a “village” of nearly 50 tiny homes for veterans to live rent-free with access to comprehensive services, including medical care.
“Veterans’ homelessness is a national crisis, so I’m proud to join an organization that has created a model to end it,” Kander, the former Democratic secretary of state, previously said. “By expanding nationally, our goal is for VCP to both end veterans’ homelessness and help millions of other veterans get the services they’ve earned.”
Kander, 38, had launched a bid for Kansas City mayor but withdrew from the race last fall to focus on his mental health.
“When I decided to suspend my political career and seek treatment for PTSD, Veterans Community Project was there to help me through the process,” Kander said. “Like they’ve done for thousands of veterans, VCP made sure I got the services I needed.”
Blunt and Kander went head-to-head in the 2016 election for U.S. Senate, with Blunt holding onto his seat despite a formidable challenge from Kander.
— Jason Kander (@JasonKander) July 26, 2019
Kaitlyn Schallhorn is a reporter with The Missouri Times and The Missouri Times Magazine. She joined the newspaper in 2019 after working as a reporter for Fox News in New York City. Throughout her career, Kaitlyn has covered political campaigns across the U.S. and humanitarian aid efforts in Africa. She is a native of Missouri who studied journalism at Winthrop University in South Carolina. Contact Kaitlyn at email@example.com.