Taking care of veterans

Foundation outreach event offers help and a free market.

Special to The Sun: The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has partnered with Sanctuary Foundation for Veterans to bring its mobile unit to a community outreach event that will be hosted by the latter on Saturday.

Sanctuary Foundation for Veterans (SF4V) is a nonprofit whose mission is to make sure all veterans and their families have the help and resources they need to be self-sufficient, by providing support services that include housing and mental-health treatment.

Its founder and CEO, LaShaunda Carter, started the foundation after working in the medical field for more than 17 years.

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“When (Barack) Obama became president, he put a spotlight on Veterans Affairs (short for the federal Department of Veterans Affairs or the VA) and basically told the world what was happening behind closed doors and how they were dropping the ball on our veterans,” she recalled.

“I decided then, in 2013, that I was going to help them and start an organization.”

Carter explained how the foundation is supported by communities far and wide.

“If people knew they had a direct means to be able to help veterans and they were getting the help that was needed, they would donate and help and they have,” she explained. “ … We’ve been heavily supported by our donors and people who support us to make sure that these veterans are getting direct help.”

The foundation will host its second annual community outreach event Saturday at Sanctuary Services for Veterans in Willingboro. All veterans and dependent and surviving spouses who need information and assistance with benefits, services and community resources are welcome to attend. 

The foundation partnered with the Veterans Administration in North Jersey after its first event was held last December.

“The VA will be bringing their mobile administrative unit, and I say that because every department is actually a part of that mobile unit that they bring out,” Carter said of the outreach event.

“We have a VSO (Veteran Service Officer) that actually comes out, we have a VA representative (and) we have our mental-health department there.”

There will also be a COVID vaccination/booster shot and testing van on site at the event and a free market.

“We get tons of donations from clothes to furniture to little household items to medical aids such as walkers and wheelchairs,” Carter said. “When we have our Veterans Day Resource Fair, we also have a free market and they can come and get any items that’s needed.”

Carter said helping vets inspires her every day.

“I’m not military, so this is a passion of mine,” she said. “I’ve felt as though they were the most deserving population that was getting the least, and I said, ‘If I created an organization that they did not feel like they were begging for anything, they would feel more comfortable seeking their benefits.’”

“I want veterans to know that we bring the VA out to you so that you can be taken care of and don’t have to get discouraged by the process,” Carter added. 

“ … It’s a passion, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Hours for the veteran outreach event are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Sanctuary Services for Veterans, 1 Primrose Place in Willingboro.

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