A way with words

Bridesburg Auxiliary 821 member wins essay contest.

Proud patriots: (From l) Amy Flanagan, Auxiliary Unit 821 vice president Dolores Volz, and Auxiliary Unit 821 president Sunny Lewandowski attend the American Legion Auxiliary Spring Conference.

Amy Flanagan, treasurer of the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 821 Bridesburg and Eastern vice president of the Pennsylvania Auxiliary, was recently recognized for her way with words.

Flanagan was selected the winner of the Senior Essay Contest by the American Legion Auxiliary of Pennsylvania for her piece, How Can We Address and Prevent Veteran Homelessness in Our Communities.

Flanagan has been a member of the auxiliary for more than 40 years and was honored at the spring conference of the American Legion Auxiliary in DuBoise, PA.

Below is her award-winning essay.

How Can We Address and Prevent Veteran Homelessness in Our Communities

The Homeless Veterans program is one that brings interest to me. You see my father, whom I received my eligibility in the auxiliary, was very active in the Homeless program in our County and Department. He played a part in the day to day running of the home they started in Philadelphia, in fact he was instrumental in finding the home in the first place.

I saw that these men who lived at the home were ordinary people who just wanted a little help to get back on their feet. With a place to stay, they went to a job every day and came home to a place to eat, sleep and relax. They learned the responsibility of living a regular life.

Living in a big city as I do, I see these vets on a lot of corners begging for food. How did this happen? How did they end up like this? So many of these vets just fall through the cracks in the system. What can we do to help them out?

I think first our government legislators should do more to help these vets who served our country and now are returning to a regular life. Making sure to keep up on all the facts and letting your representatives in your area know that you want to make sure these veterans are taken care of should be one of our priorities. If we as a Veterans organization don’t get involved, then who will?

Even though living in a big city, we are divided into communities. Look in your communities for those vets that might be struggling and on the verge of homelessness. Helping now before it is too late seeming like a good way to go. Getting a food basket together during the holiday season is nice, but what about the rest of the year? If we could open our units to an ongoing food program to these veterans maybe that would help. Showing them that we care and are willing to help out just might be what they need to build up their esteem and help them get the jump start they need to a better life.

There are so many people struggling to make ends meet these days. To see a man or woman on the corner with a sign, Homeless Vet, is just not acceptable. These were functioning people who served our country. They should not be forgotten now.

Sitting here in my warm home on a cold winter’s day makes me feel grateful but also sad that there are so many people who do not have that luxury and many of them are veterans. Homelessness isn’t getting less, it is growing each day. But I think if we start small in our units, posts and communities, maybe just maybe we can start to make a difference!