Spin for a Veteran aims to vanquish homelessness among military vets

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Spin for a Veteran aims to vanquish homelessness among military vets

Post by Loader on Tue 02 May 2017, 08:42

Bill Kaufmann - Calgary Herald April 27 2017

They were furiously spinning their wheels but making progress in vanquishing homelessness among Canada’s military veterans.

A group of Canadian Pacific staff and seven teams of competitors mounted stationary bikes at CP’s headquarters in the city’s southeast, spelling each other off to keep an unbroken chain of pedalling for 24 hours.

The teams seeking to accumulate the most kilometres consisted of Calgary and CP police, Canadian Army, Corps of Commissionaires, British military and city firefighters.

“It’s a brotherhood,” said Dave Howard, president of the Canadian Legacy Project (CLP) which is combating vet homelessness.

“We’re down here watching these guys sweating their butts off … they rode all Wednesday night.”

Their goal is to raise $60,000 for the CLP, though Howard said he expects the teams to exceed that by the time they finished the one-day marathon Thursday afternoon.

It’s funding that’ll support a new CLP transitional housing initiative.

While ecstatic about the event in which each team hopes to cover at least 1,000 km, Howard said the issue it’s seeking to tackle is a grim one.

Homelessness among the country’s military vets is growing two to three per cent a year and now numbers 2,500 nationwide, he said.

“And in Calgary, there are 160,” added Howard, though it’s difficult to reach a precise number. You’re dealing with very proud men and women and they don’t want to admit to being vets.”

Veterans on the street come from a host of military backgrounds, from peacetime and peacekeeping to combat rotations.

What they generally have in common is the affliction that’s put them there — post-traumatic stress disorder, said Howard.

“It takes four or five years before they really start to see the effects of post-traumatic stress and guys on the street start self-medicating,” he said. “They shun their families and the easiest thing for them is to live on the street.”

The CLP, he said, is set to unveil a program that’s meant to end the problem, but Howard wouldn’t divulge details.

For now, he praised CP for taking the initiative on the Spin For A Vet fundraiser.

“They approached us and are totally committed to the military community,” said Howard. “They’ve done all the work.”

The company has a lengthy tradition of supporting Canada’s military and the fundraiser’s a natural extension of that, said Scott MacDonald, CP’s senior vice-president of operations system.

“It is an honour and a privilege to support our Canadian veterans in their time of need as they so selflessly stood on guard for this great country,” said MacDonald.

Donations can be made by going to http://www.canadianlegacy.org/donate/and write SPIN FOR A VET in the comments.

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