MReport August 2018

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26 | TH E M R EP O RT FEATURE S afety. Security. Freedom. These are the principles upon which our nation was founded and are the ideals that our armed forces continue to defend to this day. But when our service members come home, are they being guaranteed the same dedica- tion and determination for their successful transitions back into civilian life from those they served to protect? One group of industry leaders has set its sights on delivering this promise to those who promised it all. The Veterans Financial Services Advisory Council (VFSAC) began with the mission to address the ongoing needs of veterans and their families in search of support related to housing and critical services. With the influence of prominent leaders from housing, banking, finance, and mortgage- related companies, the VFSAC can provide support for estab- lished programs which support the function and stability of military families reacclimating to civilian life. Ed Delgado, President and CEO of The Five Star Institute, founded the VFSAC after he had the opportunity to present a mortgage-free home to a military Gold Star family at a home dona- tion event in 2012. "I met the widow of a fallen serviceman who said she would say my name aloud in her eve- ning prayers for the rest of her life, thanking me for the gift of homeownership," Delgado said. "I was struck by the stark contrast of her appreciation after suffering the ultimate loss of a loved one in defense of our nation's freedom, versus the simple act of giving. I'll never forget that feeling. It inspired me to do more to help military families receive recogni- tion and support through action." Examining the Front Line A ccording to the 2017 An- nual Homeless Assessment Report, the Point-in-Time count, which measures the amount of sheltered and unsheltered home- less persons on a single night in January, recorded 40,056 veter- ans experiencing homelessness in the United States—just over 9 percent of all homeless adults. Of these recorded, 38 percent, or 15,366 veterans, were found in "places not suited for human habitation." "We as a nation, should help our military families in their time of need because of all that they have done for us in our nation's time of need," retired Brigadier Gen. John I. Pray, Jr., President and CEO of Operation Homefront and VFSAC board member, said. "Part of that is understanding that transitions are hard and transition back to the civilian community is a key component of their future success. We all share the goal of helping our military families successfully reintegrate into their communi- ties. Part of that transition process is making sure that they have a secure and stable home environ- ment upon which they can build a brighter future. VFSAC is made up of mortgage leaders who have come together to try to tackle this challenging problem from the top down." The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans as identified a complex set of factors influencing homelessness for vets, including an extreme shortage of afford- able housing, livable income, and access to health care. In addi- tion, many displaced and at-risk veterans live with the debilitating effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse, which are compounded by a lack of family and support networks. According to market research by Redfin, out of the nearly 600,000 homes currently listed for sale in the 45 most populous metropolitan areas, only 8.9 percent are affordable to a veteran earning the median veteran income. This number is down from 2012, at 27.4 percent. Home prices have grown by 55.3 Soldiering On When servicemembers come home, they deserve to have a place to call home. Industry leaders have come together to form a council providing support to veteran's assistance programs addressing the struggles behind this fight. By Kristina Brewer

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