American Legion Post 38 hosts 8th annual Veterans Haven 5K

Funds to benefit state funded program to aid homeless veterans

American Legion Post 38 members Joe McElroy (left), John Batchelor (center) and George Hutchinson (right) invite the community to support its 5th annual Veterans Haven 5K run to raise funds supporting homeless veterans. (EMILY LIU/The Sun)

American Legion Post 38 will host its eighth annual Veterans Haven 5K run and one-mile walk on Dec. 10 to benefit Veterans Haven South, a state-run transitional homeless center for veterans based in Winslow.

Veterans Haven South is one of two of state-run centers for homeless veterans in the state. Since the annual run first began in 2013, attendance has grown from about 17 racers to close to 200, and the event has raised $73,000.

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“Last year, we gave them a check for 10 grand,” said Joe McElroy, financial officer for Post 38. 

John Batchelor, race director and fellow legion member, explained that the program helps veterans with counseling, job training, resumes, transportation for job interviews and medical assistance while they are with the Haven program. Run proceeds help pay extra-budgetary expenses. 

“Two years ago, they took them all to Washington D.C.,” Batchelor said of vets. “They bused them all down –  the $10,000 paid for it– fed them and took them to visit memorials there. 

“A year ago, these guys were homeless,” he added. “That’s what [Veterans Haven South] do[es] with the money, they make life a little bit better for them.”

Batchelor also noted that the program’s success rate is about 86 percent for the number of residents who get a job, living space and rehabilitation. 

“Each resident is case managed, and that’s why they have such a high success rate there,” McElroy noted.

The homeless program has a zero-tolerance policy, and vets admitted through the Veterans Affairs Medical Center must agree to “a long-term program focusing on psychological, social and vocational rehabilitation.”

The run and walk kick off at 9 a.m., starting at Christ the King Church in Haddonfield and running through the Camden County Park System in Cherry Hill. Registration is $30 in advance until Dec. 3, when the price will be $40 per runner or walker. 

Racers can register at https://www.veteranshavenrun.org. There will be awards for the first overall and the top three winners in each age group.

To learn more about Veterans Haven, visit https://www.nj.gov/military/veterans/services/vetshavensouth/.

 

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