By Teresa Mankin
Every night in this country, thousands of veterans are sleeping on the very streets that they once swore to protect. Of the over 600,000 homeless people in our country, more than 60,000 have served in the armed forces. Homelessness is a devastating problem in this country, but the fact that many are veterans who once served their country is a tragedy.
Valiant Seed is a 501(c)3 organization founded in 2015 by two Army veterans, run by volunteers who are also veterans. Regardless of the reasons behind it, homelessness affects our communities and its effects grow more serious the longer a person is homeless. People who fought for our freedom deserve a safe space, privacy, dignity, and access to medical, mental health, occupational and other kinds of care. This is our mission.
By building tiny houses in small, sustainable communities, Valiant Seed hopes to create a new model for solving this problem. We hope to help those veterans who have somehow fallen through the cracks and who are less likely to be successful in a traditional program.
Until veterans have safe, affordable, stable housing, they can’t tackle other problems they may be facing, such as medical disability, mental illness, substance abuse, unemployment or relationship issues. That safe space that respects the veteran’s free will to choose the type and amount of help they receive is key to our mission.
Our tiny houses – about 400 square feet – will be totally off-grid to help manage limited incomes. We will employ pioneering technologies like solar electricity, LED lighting, water catchment, passive solar heating and cooling, and a composting toilet in every unit.
Our long term plans include community gardens to both feed residents and provide opportunities for micro enterprise. The sense of purpose and urgency we have felt in making Valiant Seed a reality has reinforced the idea that making sure our residents have a sense of accomplishment or purpose is paramount.
Our first communities will be built in Indiana and Oregon – our home states – and then, we hope, around the country. We believe in this model, we believe in our brothers and sisters, we believe in the communities where we want to build; and it is our fervent hope that there are people out there who will believe in us.
For more information, please visit www.valiantseed.org, or find us on Facebook or Twitter @valiantseed.
Teresa Mankin is co-founder of Valiant Seed and a native Hoosier. She is very interested in affordable and sustainable housing. In her day job, she works as a property manager. She is also a single mom, avid reader, NCIS addict and Colts fan. She and her 17 year old son live in Plainfield.