By Saundra Young
Black News & Views
The National Association for Black Veterans is on a mission to make sure veterans who laid their lives on the line for this country have a place to live when they get home.
The organization helps Black veterans understand the benefits and programs available to them.
NABVETS was established in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1969 by seven Vietnam combat veterans. It splits the country into nine regions and supports chapters in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, along with the Dominican Republic. The group has about 5,000 members.
Each region has a commander who addresses needs, and provides leadership training and guidance on navigating the VA.
Much of the group’s current focus is ending homelessness. The group advocates especially for African Americans, women, the disabled, the homeless, incarcerated veterans or veterans of limited means. They reach out to state legislators and administrators, county and city officials and other agencies championing issues of importance to low income and minority veterans.
In 1988, NABVETS officially became a national service organization certified by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to represent veterans filing claims for their benefits, and if necessary, represent them before the Board of Veterans Appeals.
Katherine Washington-Williams, NABVETS Region VIII Commander said their members are connected through their shared experiences.
“Most of the veterans in NABVETS have been homeless or have at some point in their life gone through something and somebody in the organization reached out and helped them and they’re a part of NABVETS now,” said Katherine Washington-Williams, NABVETS Region VII commander.
The group provides food and water to homeless veterans and holds clothing drives. In the winter months, the organization makes sure homeless vets have blankets, coats, socks, gloves, and other items necessary to survive on cold streets.
Washington-Williams said help by telephone for veterans is available at 910-920-3193. “To those of my brothers and sisters who are living on the street, if you need help you can call the National Association for Black Veterans.”
She added, “I don’t care what city you’re in, we have NABVETS chapters all over the world. Between the national commander, myself, and other commanders we will get you with the right person to help you.”
For more information on NABVETS, Inc. visit www.nabvets.org.