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Putnam American Legion Needs Support For Vets

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Putnam American Legion Needs Support For Vets

American Legion Post 46 encouraging Putnam County residents to assist them in raising funds through a license plate program.

Commander Richard Buford said the weather has been unseasonably cold, forcing the legion to provide housing for homeless veterans later in the year than normal. He said there is sometimes no room at the Cookeville Rescue Mission and last week, the Legion housed four veterans. He said the state distributes funds raised from the sale of veteran license plates and the Legion needs that operating capital.

“It’s very difficult for our older men and women to sleep on the pavement and the temperature is 25 degrees,” Buford said. “So we want to assist them and help them, so it’s important that we have this program so we have resources to help them when they need it the most.”

Buford said since starting the program last year, some 600 license plates have been ordered, over half of the Legion’s goal. He said if 1,000 plates are purchased by June, more state and federal funding will become available to help house homeless veterans and get distressed veterans treatment.

“As we see the number of homeless veterans increasing, especially in Middle Tennessee and Putnam County, additional resources are needed to help them receive temporary housing and help them with their addiction problems and their needs, physical and mental,” Buford said.

He said when called upon, the Legion rents hotel rooms for veterans and connects them with representatives at VA clinics. He said sometimes, it can take several days for the VA to get a counselor available and get veterans into programs that include temporary government housing. Burford said funding multi-night hotel stays can create budgetary strain.

“We made a promise that we’d take care of our brothers and sisters when we were out there on deployment, and now that we’re home, we’re going to do the same thing,” Buford said.

Buford said a member of the post, Dr. Patrick McClellan, came up with the license plate program, along with his wife. People can visit TennesseeVetsDotOrg to purchase a plate.

The post also held a spaghetti supper Thursday night to help raise funds and has planned another for April 18 after Thursday’s success.

“We had a big turnout last night and everybody really enjoyed it,” Buford said. “And it was profitable.”

He said even as temperatures warm back up, summer comes with its own expenses like training sessions on how to approach veterans who may need help. He said the license plate program will play a major role in keeping state funds involved in helping local heroes in need.


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