Initiative aims to get veterans, families into homes
TAMPA (FOX 13) - Dozens of homeless military veterans in Hillsborough County were placed into their own apartments Wednesday, as part of Operation: REVEILLE, which is a massive initiative to end veteran homelessness.
Operation: REVILLE involves members of federal, city and county governments, along with a lot of community members.
The event, which took place as part of the county's Veterans Day celebration, gave military men and women the chance to hear to the help they desperately need.
"For the longest time I didn't think I was good enough to accept the help. but the bottom line is it's not about me. It's about my family," said Jason Gravette, an Army veteran.
Gravette's family hasn't had an easy life. An injury forced him from active service. Depression came next and he and his family of five eventually moved in with a grandparent.
"For the longest time, I didn't set the best example," he told FOX 13.
With Operation: REVEILLE comes the promise of a new beginning.
"This is an amazing experience," he said. "I'd just like other people to know that I had the feelings that I was all alone. Bottom line, I'm not alone and neither are you."
Since it launched last November, Operation: REVEILLE has placed about 500 homeless veterans into homes, including 53 on Wednesday.
By the end of the year, organizers pledge to get the remaining 150 off the streets.
"We are making a difference. We are housing veterans. We are improving lives and, by extension, we are making this community the place that we know it can be," said Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.
"It shows a commitment again, not only by government, but an entire community," added Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner. "Government cannot solve this issue alone. It's not a city problem. It's not a county problem. It's an entire community's problem."
For the Gravette family, along with a fully-furnished home, they get something else: hope.
"I haven't had hope in a long time and it opened up my eyes that there are people there that are willing to help," said Jason Gravette's wife, Melinda.
"It's an amazing feeling. It's a feeling that I'm not used to," Jason said.
A veterans job fair is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 12, at Port Tampa Bay Terminal 2. It'll run from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.