HELENA — The annual VA2K Walk & Roll event took place this Tuesday at the Fort Harrison VA Medical Center.
“Yeah, so, VA2K is an opportunity for us to not only promote the services we offer here at the VA for homelessness but also to actually obtain donations that are going to go directly back to our homeless veterans,” says Homeless Program Manager for VA Montana, Adrian Spencer.
The walk took place on the parade grounds starting at 7:30 AM. As well as a walk over at Ten Mile Creek Park at 10 AM. In addition to the walk, a VA health fair took place in the main lobby along with live music.
This is the walk’s 13th year of bringing awareness to unsheltered veterans as well as encouraging folks to live active lifestyles. From 2021 to 2022 the state saw a 56% increase in homeless veterans. The event accepted donations such as money, food, and clothing. They also were accepting garden supplies for unsheltered veterans who now live in one of the Fort Harrison VA’s housing units.
“It is really important because it is so much harder for people now with the cost of housing so we just have more unsheltered veterans and to take some time to recognize that and hopefully have that awareness so people might start to think about what can we really start to do about this,” says Employee Whole Health Coordinator, Holly Alastra.
The crew from Fort Harrison VA’S Fire Department decided to get in on the walk and spoke to me about the importance of supporting those who have served our country.
“They served their country. They've done a lot of time, perhaps overseas and in some hostile environments. So, I think it's great to give back to where we can help care for them and support them in emotional ways, and physical ways, financially perhaps,” says firefighter, Zachary Henry.
Other Montana VA resources to help veterans secure housing include job training, addiction and depression treatment, health/dental care, and more.