There are more than 45,000 nonprofits in the United States that serve military veterans. One of the most actionable is an incredible organization called My Brother Vinny (MBV).
Based out of New York, MBV has been in operation since 2013. Founded by Paula Miritello who had a vision to help veterans start over by filling their homes with items that well, make it feel like home.
The problem Paula saw was simple: there are too many veterans transitioning into homes without the budget to even buy furniture.
There are government funded programs such as the Veterans Administration’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families that help house low-income veterans. That is, get them into a place. But the question is, how does a veteran afford things such as a bed and couch to fill that place if they are below the poverty line?
This is where MBV steps in. After a low-income veteran is housed, Paula herself makes contact with the veteran and asks them a simple question, like she did to me: “What do you need?”
I was shy at first and made a small list. She took the reins and made sure I knew I was going to get everything It would take to fill my apartment.
I rented a truck and made my way to the MBV headquarters at a storage unit. On my way I thought of all the veteran nonprofits I have heard of that use terms such as, “We are working to reduce veteran suicide.”
The most recient data shows more than 21 veterans commit suicide a day — a number that is far too many.
When I was loading up my truck with all the furniture, I realized how important it is to have a home that feels like home. According to Maslow‘s Hierarchy of Needs, a safe and secure dwelling is one of the first things that is required for a person to have a sense of well-being.
Even though Paula is in essence providing something as simple as furniture, there is a greater need being fulfilled.
Having a safe and comfortable living situation is vital to mental health and survival. Without it, a person is debased and has nowhere to rest and recover from life’s hardships.
The night before I picked up my furniture, I was sleeping on a cheap air mattress that deflated half way through the night. Nothing about that felt secure to me. But once MBV stepped in and provided me with more than just a bed, I had a place that felt like home.
The hearts that make up MBV are rare. They take time to fundraise, get furniture and supplies, and even deliver the goods to veterans within their country.
MBV is an all volunteer force and not one person on their team collects a salary or any kind of monetary gain. What drives them is a collective thought that those who served should be taken care of by their community.
G.K. Chesterton said, “The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”
When those who served this country end up homeless after putting their lives on the line for those behind them, Paula and her team say we love you and we are here for you by taking action.
Every truck they fill with the things veterans need to stabilize and start over is filling the hearts of those they serve with a profound sense of belonging and love.
And as we all know, love heals. Paula and her team have served and helped heal 1,813 veterans to this day. Please head to their website by clicking here and support however you can.