The Defense Forces charity is taking to the streets to help homeless veterans
More and more young people who have served in the armed forces are falling through hard times and becoming homeless, the new CEO of Ireland’s former staff organization has warned.
Ormac Kirwan of Óglaigh Náisiúnta na hÉireann (ONE), a charity that provides shelter and support for Defense Forces veterans, has called on the government to set up a “one-stop shop” similar to the ones recently set up here for Ukrainian refugees to give combat veterans access to government ones facilitate services.
As hotels and Airbnb accommodation return to service for the post-pandemic tourism season, the charity is preparing for a surge in the number of veterans with housing difficulties, particularly in Greater Dublin.
After serving nearly 30 years in the Defense Forces, with five overseas deployments, Mr Kirwan left the company to become Operations Manager at Kildare GAA.
Since joining ONE in February, he has now been “reconnected to the military family” and says he is committed to making things better for fighting veterans.
“People are generally unaware that homelessness is a problem among some veterans,” he said.
ONE has 37 branches across Ireland with 15 support centers and provides 20,000 beds to veterans annually.
It says it kept 1,000 veterans off the streets. It helps ninety percent of homeless veterans find permanent housing, with Mr Kirwan saying it takes about three years for veterans to get back on their feet.
All homes are run by ex-servicemen because it ensures “the atmosphere is right” and what veterans are used to from the barracks.
Mr Kirwan said many homeless veterans “go under the radar” because of “personal pride” they are unwilling to highlight their past status as having served in the Defense Forces.
A spokesman for the Dublin Simon Community confirmed that they know anecdotally of some former members of the Defense Forces accessing their services, but said they do not officially collect or share that data.
Homelessness used to be a problem, mostly limited to older former members who had found it difficult to return to normal life after a long career in the services, Mr Kirwan said.
However, the organization is now noting a “significant” demographic shift among those seeking help, as more younger veterans leave the Defense Forces after three to seven years of service and struggle to adjust.
Some have experienced marital breakup or mental health issues — although addiction problems tend to be less common among veterans than in broader society, he said.
“It used to be veterans with 30 to 40 years of service coming to the end of long careers, but now it’s younger veterans who wouldn’t have that network, that ‘band of brothers’ that the older veterans could always leave gather strength after a lifetime,” said Mr. Kirwan.
“But younger people are leaving the armed forces for different reasons – maybe it wasn’t what they signed up for,” he said.
ONE will today host its annual Sleeping Flags campaign to raise awareness and funds for the veterans of the Irish Armed Forces it supports.
At the event, veterans and ONE members will sleep in symbolic tricolor sleeping bags – underscoring the seriousness of the situation for many Defense Forces veterans who have been left homeless.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/defence-forces-charity-hits-the-streets-to-help-homeless-veterans-41672854.html The Defense Forces charity is taking to the streets to help homeless veterans