Members of the Armed Forces, regardless of the branch they serve in, form a bond during their initial days of enlistment. They look out for one another during training, down-time, deployments, and everything-in-between. This fellowship is not only woven into the fabric of the uniforms they wear, but also into the principles and characters of these individuals as they perform dangerous duties day-in and day-out.
This sense of community doesn’t fade away at the end of the duty day. It extends beyond the threshold of the main gate and into the communities where these service members spend a significant portion of their military careers. They volunteer their time, they look after neighbors, and they strive to leave their community a little better off than when they arrived.
It is with this shared sense of fellowship that the Great Lakes Naval Museum is once again partnering with LEARN Charter School #6 to make in difference in our community. This year we focus on the problem of homelessness, a serious issue that affects nearly every community in America. As pervasive as this problem is throughout the country, more striking to us is the fact that nearly 50,000 veterans are living on the streets during any given night, while over a million other veterans are considered at risk of homelessness due to poverty, lack of support networks, and dismal living conditions in overcrowded or substandard housing. These are the people we served with, the people who stood shoulder to shoulder with us through tough times, and now face a very tenuous and uncertain future.
Our role is to raise awareness of the issue and how we can all contribute to the eradication of this problem. It will be addressed through a multi-media campaign that will culminate in student-created short films. These films will highlight the issue through the eyes of some of the most important members of our community: our kids. We hope to produce films that not only capture the quality and creativity of the students, but that also have an impact on the broader community. It is our intention to screen these films at two prestigious events; WE DAY Illinois and the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival.
This project is in the initial stages of planning and conceptualization and we will share periodic updates on our progress. We’re excited to see the final products and we hope that our efforts will make our community a better place than the one we now know.
 Statistical data gleaned from the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. To learn more about the problems veterans face, please visit: http://nchv.org/index.php/news/media/background_and_statistics/