More than 60 veterans have found comfort, solace and a place to call home since Cockrell House first opened its doors in 2009.
The housing initiative in Colwood for homeless veterans is the result of efforts by a group of four who wanted to do something for the approximately one in 10 veterans who are homeless, explained Angus Stanfield, one of the founding members of Cockrell House. “They have served in wars, conflict zones and situations most of us cannot begin to imagine. Unfortunately, there are some veterans who come home unable to make an easy transition back into civilian life. Too many veterans find themselves homeless, struggling with depression or post-traumatic stress disorder linked to their experiences in war zones or places devastated by natural disasters.”
Funding for the entirely volunteer driven initiative comes from various veterans organizations, including the City of Colwood, the Esquimalt Lions, and Russ Ridley the original owner of the house. The BC/Yukon Legion Foundation, which includes all Legion branches in the province, has been a major contributor as well, Stanfield said.
Cockrell House representatives participated in a federal program in 2013 evaluating the issue of veterans dealing with homelessness, which prompted meaningful discussion and provided an exchange of information with other similar organizations. “We’re fortunate as well to have professional support for Cockrell House from a variety of local institutions and organizations,” he noted. Dr. Tim Black from the University of Victoria, the local Veterans Affairs Canada office, lawyer Terry Swan and nurses from Verity Home Care all provide support pro bono, he added.
“We also provide furniture, linen, utensils, basically everything a veteran ready to transition into independent living needs,” he said. “And most of that is through donations.”
Although Stanfield believes Cockrell House was the first of its kind in Canada, he’s pleased that more facilities are now in place in different parts of the country. He took part in a round table sponsored by the Government of Canada’s Advisory Committee on Homelessness in Ottawa this month, and believes progress is being made.
“We have always felt from square one that more money should be coming from the federal government to help deal with this problem,” he said. “We need to ensure that every veteran who is homeless or at the risk of becoming homeless gets the assistance they deserve.”
You can donate by sending a cheque earmarked for Cockrell House to BC/Yukon Legion Foundation, #101-17618 58th Ave., Surrey, B.C., V3S 1L3. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Find more Remembrance Day features on the Gazette’s website.