About the Milwaukee

Homeless Veterans Initiative

Mission statement: The Milwaukee Homeless Veteran Initiative provides the services that homeless and at-risk veterans need to reach and maintain their highest level of independence.

Since 2008, we have helped more than 1,200 veterans and their families in a variety of ways.  We fill the gaps that no one else addresses.  The need is great and growing.

We do outreach to find homeless veterans where they sleep and at daytime shelters, meal sites and other places where the homeless gather.  We help them in obtaining benefits, housing, medical care, clothing, toiletries; transportation and other necessities, and furnishing apartments when they do get a place to live. 


The MHVI Bunker, our new home
The MHVI Bunker, our new home
The Homeless Veterans Initiative began in June 2008 when two members of the Milwaukee chapter of Veterans of Peace, Mark Foreman and Dennis Johnson, began interviewing homeless veterans at Repairers of the Breach, a daytime shelter in Milwaukee, to find out what kinds of help they needed.  It began slowly, giving bus tickets to homeless veterans to help them to get to appointments, and walking them through the process of qualifying for health care and other benefits.

Next came early morning outreach to find homeless vets where they sleep, in parks, in abandoned buildings, under bridges. In becoming advocates for those who were at a disadvantage in navigating the bureaucracy of the VA we earned a reputation for being people the veterans could trust and count on.

The program has grown rapidly as we have identified and worked to meet the needs of the 300 to 400 homeless veterans in Milwaukee and another 5,500 identified as at-risk.   We started the first food pantry for veterans in Wisconsin and operated it for three years until a church near the VA Hospital agreed to take it over in 2013.  We are no longer affiliated with the food pantry or community breakfast at St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church, 5500 W. Greenfield Ave., West Milwaukee, which has begun operating under the similar name of Milwaukee Homeless Veterans Services.

Since Aug. 1, 2012 we have operated as a new, independent organization, Milwaukee Homeless Veterans Initiative, Inc.,a nonstock, nonprofit corporation recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a tax exempt charitable organization.  Donations are tax deductible.

We are now focused on core programs which fill gaps and provide services no other organization does -- an expanded veterans outreach program and our home support program to furnish rooms and apartments for veterans when they finally do get a place to live.  Most of them have nothing and no resources, so we provide the furniture,kitchen and household items, toiletries and other necessities to begin their new lives. We also operate an emergency food pantry to serve veterans in transition or crisis, who need immediate help but cannot access regular food bank or nutrition programs.

Started by veterans for veterans, MHVI is run mostly by volunteers, with five paid staff and 60 volunteers, including two staff members who were formerly homeless themselves.

Our mission and motto are unchanged: "We don’t leave our wounded behind."        

Please join our efforts to give our veterans the kind of help they need – and deserve.


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