Tunnel to Towers embarks on bold new effort for America’s homeless veterans

www.foxnews.com

Deirdre Reilly

Veterans who have served our nation by putting their lives on the line through their military service too often find themselves facing the tragic circumstance of homelessness.

Now, the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, a New York-based nonprofit, has committed itself to addressing this situation through a major new initiative: providing homes for homeless veterans. 

“We owe so much to America’s veterans. These brave servicemen and women have made incredible sacrifices in order to protect this country,” Frank Siller, chairman and SEO of Tunnel to Towers, told Fox News Digital on Friday morning. 

FRANK SILLER’S TUNNEL TO TOWERS ANNOUNCES GIFT TO FAMILY OF FALLEN SEAL TEAM 8 COMMANDER

“At Tunnel to Towers, we knew we had an obligation to make sure they weren’t left struggling on the streets. We’re looking forward to the future and the progress we will make through our Veteran Homelessness Program,” he also said.

It will be nothing short of “life-changing,” added Bradley Blakeman, a senior adviser to Tunnel to Towers and to Frank Siller, who shared further details with Fox News Digital in a phone interview this week.

Frank Siller founded Tunnel to Towers (t2t.org) in honor of his heroic brother, Stephen Siller, who lost his life during 9/11 as he saved others. The group has a new initiative to provide housing for all American veterans who need it. 

Frank Siller founded Tunnel to Towers (t2t.org) in honor of his heroic brother, Stephen Siller, who lost his life during 9/11 as he saved others. The group has a new initiative to provide housing for all American veterans who need it.  (Fox News)

“There are now three legs to the stool,” said Blakeman of the group’s expanding mission. “Previously, our mission was to pay off mortgages for fallen first responders and military killed in the line of duty leaving a family behind.” 

The second “leg of the stool,” he said, is to provide smart homes for critically injured military and first responders injured in the line of duty.

“[Frank] Siller and the board recently said, ‘We have to do more — what are we missing?’” said Blakeman. 

They soon came up with the third “leg of the stool”: eradicating homelessness among America’s veterans.

The nonprofit goes where the need is greatest: “If you build it, they won’t come — we have to go be where they are.”

“There are 40,000 veterans on our streets — it’s unacceptable,” said Blakeman.

Tunnel to Towers has already invested millions of dollars into this new mission just 120 days in, Blakeman noted. 

The nonprofit, headquartered in Staten Island, N.Y., is now active in Riverside, Calif., and West Los Angeles, Calif. — as well as in Phoenix, Houston and Washington, D.C. 

The Tunnel to Towers Foundation has a new alliance with U.S. VETS to provide both quality housing and important services for America's homeless veterans.

The Tunnel to Towers Foundation has a new alliance with U.S. VETS to provide both quality housing and important services for America’s homeless veterans. (Tunnel to Towers Foundation)

They’re looking to expand soon into Florida, New York and Georgia, too, Blakeman said.

The need for dignity

He shared additional details about the progress already made on the new initiative. 

Blakeman said they are “housing people in Riverside, California, renovating property in Phoenix, closing on property in Houston, looking for property in Florida and in negotiations on property in D.C.”

He underscored the importance of dignity when it comes to assisting our veterans.

Tunnel to Towers Foundation is now working with U.S. VETS to provide housing and services for all America vets who are homeless. 

Tunnel to Towers Foundation is now working with U.S. VETS to provide housing and services for all America vets who are homeless.  (Tunnel to Towers Foundation)

“It’s just not enough to provide a home and a roof,” he said. “We want to house folks in need in comfort and dignity, and we can do that — but we also need to provide services,” he said. 

“Without services, we’re not providing the help these people need to either get back on their feet and rejoin their communities, or to live out the rest of their days in dignity and comfort.”

This new alliance ensures that Tunnel to Towers is providing “the best quality of housing complemented with the best quality of services available.” 

To provide the crucial housing as well as much-needed services, Tunnel to Towers (t2t.org) has built an alliance with the nonprofit group U.S. VETS, headquartered in Los Angeles.

 The group provides an array of programs and services, including physical and mental health services, job training and alcohol and drug therapies, said Blakeman.

America's homeless veterans are not forgotten by Tunnel to Towers and U.S. VETS. The two groups are working together to provide housing plus quality services for veterans all across the nation. 

America’s homeless veterans are not forgotten by Tunnel to Towers and U.S. VETS. The two groups are working together to provide housing plus quality services for veterans all across the nation.  (Tunnel to Towers Foundation)

Nearly 38,000 veterans are experiencing homelessness — making up roughly 9% of all homeless adults, according to the U.S. VETS website.

“We know what we do well,” said Blakeman of Tunnel to Towers. “We build and help provide infrastructure — we have the capital. And we know what we don’t do — and that is the servicing. So, we got the best in the business.”

This new alliance ensures that Tunnel to Towers is providing “the best quality of housing complemented with the best quality of services available,” he said.

placeholder

“Eventually we hope to totally eradicate veteran homelessness.”

Veteran in need of homes don’t have to find them, said Blakeman. Instead, the nonprofit goes where the need is greatest.

“If you build it, they won’t come — we have to go be where they are,” he explained.

“Homeless vets tend to congregate in the Sun Belt, where it’s easier to live, and in urban areas. We are not going to uproot them and take them from their familiar surroundings.”

The Tunnel to Towers Foundation has bold goals to help eradicate veteran homelessness across America. 

The Tunnel to Towers Foundation has bold goals to help eradicate veteran homelessness across America. 

Tunnel to Towers’ research, along with data from U.S. Census reports, indicates that the help is needed first in the states in which they’re now actively working — but their goals are big.

“Eventually we hope to totally eradicate veteran homelessness,” said Blakeman.

‘Determined to carry out his duty’

Tunnel to Towers has a dramatic and personal backstory, as many people know.

Frank Siller founded the nonprofit to honor and remember his brother, the late Stephen Siller — one of the many heroes of 9/11. 

Stephen Siller was a firefighter with the F.D.N.Y. who turned around on 9/11 after his shift was over and ran back to help those in need. He died in service to his fellow Americans. Frank Siller founded Tunnel to Towers in his honor.

Stephen Siller was a firefighter with the F.D.N.Y. who turned around on 9/11 after his shift was over and ran back to help those in need. He died in service to his fellow Americans. Frank Siller founded Tunnel to Towers in his honor. (Frank Siller/Tunnel to Towers)

On that day in 2001, Stephen Siller, a husband, father of five and firefighter with Brooklyn’s Squad 1, had just finished his shift and was on his way to play golf when he heard a plane had hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center, according to the Tunnels to Towers website.

Stephen turned around and drove to the entrance of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel — only to find it closed already for security purposes. 

“The Sillers have turned their family’s tragedy into a blessing.”

“Determined to carry out his duty,” as the Tunnel to Towers website explains, Stephen “strapped 60 lbs. of gear to his back and raced on foot through the tunnel to the Twin Towers” — where he “gave up his life while saving others.”

Stephen Siller, who lost his life on 9/11, is shown in his F.D.N.Y. department uniform. 

Stephen Siller, who lost his life on 9/11, is shown in his F.D.N.Y. department uniform.  (Frank Siller/Tunnel to Towers)

Blakeman’s own personal backstory echoes Siller’s. 

Serving President George Bush on 9/11 as his gatekeeper and scheduler, Blakeman was in the West Wing when the White House had to be evacuated. 

On that terrible day, Blakeman lost his nephew, a first responder who was in the South Tower. 

placeholder

Blakeman said it is “his honor” to help veterans. 

CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR OUR LIFESTYLE NEWSLETTER

“The Sillers have turned their family’s tragedy into a blessing,” he said. Stephen Siller is “living on” through all the people that the nonprofit has helped. 

Blakeman said that Frank Siller likens life and those who sacrifice to “an hourglass,” noting, “You never get the sand back. And every grain is a life.”

Deirdre Reilly is a senior editor, lifestyle, with Fox News Digital. 

https://www.foxnews.com/lifestyle/tunnel-towers-america-homeless-veterans?intcmp=tw_fnc

“Protest group targets wreaths placed on veterans’ gravesites”

Honoring Our Veterans

In memory of my brother 





ACTIVE-DUTY ​MILITARY SUICIDE DEATHS IN 2ND QUARTER 2021 HAVE TAKEN MORE MILITARY LIVES THAN COVID DURING ENTIRE PANDEMIC​

thedcpatriot.com

More soldiers in the U.S. military’s active-duty, National Guard, and reserve forces died from suicide in the second quarter of this year than soldiers in the entire U.S. military died from the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, a new Pentagon report shows.

This shocking news reveals that active-duty suicide deaths in the 2nd quarter of 2021, versus the 2nd quarter of 2020, had an increase of 46%.

Titled “The Department of Defense (DOD) Quarterly Suicide Report (QSR),” the document reveals that from April 1 to June 30, a total of 139 troops took their lives, with 99 classified as “active component,” 14 as “reserve” members, and 26 as National Guard. Broken down among service branches, the active component deaths include 60 from the Army, eight from the Marine Corps, 17 from the Navy, and 14 from the Air Force.

The newly released numbers are more than double the total number of U.S. service members that have died from coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, with the Military Times reporting 67 COVID-related deaths in the U.S. military to date.

Following an August directive from the Biden administration, all members of the U.S. military are required to receive the COVID jab in order to continue service, with the deadline for vaccination varying among each branch.

“After careful consultation with medical experts and military leadership, and with the support of the President, I have determined that mandatory vaccination against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) is necessary to protect the Force and defend the American people,” wrote Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in an August 25 memo. “To defend this Nation, we need a healthy and ready force.”

Only 65 % of U.S. military members, including all National Guard, Army Reserve and active-duty forces, have been fully vaccinated for the respiratory virus to date, according to Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby.

“I can tell you that active-duty personnel with at least one dose now stands at 96.7% and active-duty personnel that are fully vaccinated stands today at 83.7%,” he said at a recent press conference. “So, we continue to make progress on this and the total force, at least one dose [is] 80%. And fully vaccinated again across the total force is about 65%.”

Our appreciation to The Federalist for contents in this article.

https://thedcpatriot.com/active-duty-%e2%80%8bmilitary-suicide-deaths-in-2nd-quarter-2021-have-taken-more-military-lives-than-covid-during-entire-pandemic%e2%80%8b/

Love Coffee ☕

All money goes to help veterans

Sign the Petition: Honoring Major Andrew D. Myers

www.change.org

Daniel Glor started this petition to President, Board of Education Michael Fuchs and 6 others

Honoring Major Andrew D. Byers

Proposal:
We propose to name the Clarence High School pool after Major Andrew D. Byers, a distinguished Clarence Swimming Alumnus.  Doing so will honor and commemorate how he lived and the example he set through his bravery, character, and the ultimate sacrifice he made in defense of our nation.

Clarence alumni swimmers and divers often return to the pool to visit the team and share stories, provide advice, and enjoy the camaraderie. The students gain insight and inspiration from these alumni visits. Andy will never be able to share his brave story and rich insights with current and future swimmers, so we propose doing so on his behalf by memorializing him in a noted place in his life: The Clarence High School pool. Naming the pool after this beloved husband, son, brother, dear friend, distinguished student athlete and selfless guardian of our nation’s freedom will provide an example for future generations of Clarence swimmers and students.

Andy’s Story:
Major Andrew Byers (US Army Special Forces) was killed in action in Kunduz, Afghanistan on November 3, 2016 while conducting a ‘Train, Advise, and Assist’ mission with Afghan special operations forces. Byers was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for selflessly running into a kill zone to retrieve a fallen Afghan comrade, for maintaining positive control of a 59-man force during a seemingly hopeless situation, and for sacrificing his life by leading from the front to rescue his men.

By putting himself in harm’s way to selflessly save his comrades, Andy died in a manner consistent with the way he lived. Those that knew Andy best were not surprised by the accounts of the selfless valor he displayed that day. Andy’s strength of character was apparent to those he interacted with throughout his life. His peers and friends would often tell others how he served as a shining example of the very best that Clarence High School has to offer.


Andy especially shined in the pool as a four-time All-American Swimmer and team captain. As detailed by his swim coach Eric McClaren, “It was Andy’s distinct ability to lead and to motivate the people around him that set him apart from others. He was a role model from the first day he walked into the pool. Even the upperclassmen would tell you that Andy was the driving force behind our team. It is no coincidence that Andy’s class never lost a dual meet in his entire high school career.”

Andy was known to have the strongest work ethic on the team and an unmatched drive to not only be his best, but to help others around him realize their true potential. While Andy was a formidable example of strength, he also possessed genuine kindness and compassion when interacting with those who needed some encouragement. Andy was welcoming to all. Andy excelled in academics at Clarence and participated in student council and the yearbook committee. Despite his many achievements, Andy remained the same modest person his peers came to know.


After graduating from Clarence, Andy attended The United States Military Academy at West Point, where he graduated 12th in his class of 972. Following graduation, Andy joined the Green Berets, successfully completed Jump School, and became a ranking officer of a High Altitude Low Opening (HALO) Parachutist team. Andy had a distinguished military career, highlighted by a posthumous award of the Silver Star, the United States’ third highest decoration for valor in combat.

In addition to receiving the Silver Star, throughout his distinguished career, Andy was awarded the Purple Heart, three Army Commendation Medals, Army Achievement Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, Iraq Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon, Combat Infantryman Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge, Parachutist and Military Free Fall Parachutist badges, the Ranger tab, and the Special Forces tab.


The fellow alumni of Clarence High School are honored to have Andy as an alumnus. There are no words to properly encapsulate the quality of Andy’s character, but Coach McClaren comes closest with “exceptional.” Andy was a beloved husband, son and brother, a dear friend, distinguished student -athlete, and a selfless guardian of our nation. Naming the Clarence High School pool after Andy is a permanent and tangible way to honor him, recognize the way he lived his life, and enables his story to serve as an example for future generations of Clarence students.


Be thou at peace Andy. May we forever honor your bravery and sacrifice.

Please find further details of Andy’s heroics in the article included below: https://www.army.mil/article/181848/until_dawn_surviving_the_battle_of_boz_qandahari

https://www.change.org/p/michael-fuchs-honoring-major-andrew-d-byers?source_location=petition_footer&algorithm=promoted&original_footer_petition_id=1780490&grid_position=7&pt=AVBldGl0aW9uAGieyQAAAAAAYLUrAUXMDSY3YjY2YTExNg%3D%3D

Petition · Mr. Anthony Klopfer: Director VA of Eastern Kansas: Support Eastern/Central Kansas Veterans · Change.org

www.change.org

Dear Veterans and Community,

As the daughter of a Kansas veteran, I would like to inform veterans, their family and friends and the rest of the community of some proposed changes that I believe will negatively impact veterans who utilize services at the Topeka Veteran Affairs Medical Center and what we can do to stop it.

Recently, Anthony Rudy Klopfer, Director of the Eastern Kansas VA System, which includes both the Topeka and Leavenworth campuses, communicated with KSNT news about his proposal of changes to the Eastern Kansas VA System. This consists of consolidating services to Leavenworth and downsizing the Topeka VA Medical Center. These changes are supposed to benefit Kansas veterans. He states the changes better meet the needs of veterans by reaching out and providing more services. You can view his brief outline video here (VA Eastern Kansas 2021 Strategic Plan-Video 2-Goals, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p17uFDPMaHM on YouTube.

On November 25, 2019, KSNT reported the Topeka VA having the best patient satisfaction rate of any VA in the country. Currently, approximately 65% of the 35,000 veterans of the Eastern Kansas VA System use services at the Topeka VA. This leaves the remaining approximate 35% of Eastern Kansas veterans using services at the Leavenworth VA. Topeka has a population of ~126,000 while Leavenworth has a population of ~36,000 and is also a part of the Kansas City metropolitan area, which already has a large VA. The Leavenworth VA is only 36 miles from the KC VA. The Kansas City VA includes an Emergency Department, ICU, and Surgery Services, has more specialists available, and is able to see a wide complexity of patients. If the Topeka VA is downsized, veterans would have to travel either an additional 63 miles to Leavenworth or 72 miles to the KC VA for care.

Despite these facts, Director Klopfer plans to consolidate and move many resources and services from the Topeka VA to the Leavenworth VA. What benefit is there to Kansas veterans for consolidating and moving services from Topeka to the NE corner of KS, which already has these services through the KC VA? This consolidation would force all the veterans who utilize the Topeka VA to travel even further for their services.

The proposal also discusses closing down the Topeka VA Emergency Department, which is currently open 24/7, and replacing it with an Urgent Care that will not be open 24/7 and will not accept ambulances. Instead, it will be a walk-in clinic, open M-F 8am-8pm and 8am-4:30pm on weekends. For any medical emergency in the future, a veteran will have to drive to the Leavenworth, KC or Wichita VA’s or downtown Topeka to Stormont Vail or St Francis. Additionally, the proposal also discusses consolidating the Topeka VA ICU and General Surgery to Leavenworth.

At one time, the Topeka VA had the best PTSD Program in the country. That program has recently been closed. In the proposal, there is consideration for not reopening this program. In the video mentioned above, Director Klopfer discussed the possibility of keeping the Fresh Start Program at Topeka, moving it to the Leavenworth VA or closing it down completely. The proposal also discusses improving services and veteran care at the CBOCs by consolidating all of the Southeast Kansas CBOCs into one clinic. At this time, the Community-Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) in Emporia has already been closed.

When the consolidation is complete, there will be 2 ICU’s, 2 Surgical Centers and 2 Emergency Departments in close proximity in the northeast corner of the state (Leavenworth and KC). This leaves the veterans in the greater Topeka area, including those from Sabetha to Emporia, Lawrence to Salina, and the surrounding areas that currently utilize the Topeka VA, without an Emergency Department, General Surgery and ICU, and possibly will lose the Fresh Start Program and PTSD Program, as well. All of these services will no longer be offered through the Topeka VA. If these changes occur, those services will be lost permanently.

Director Klopfer wants to take away these services from the Topeka VA, that veterans in both Topeka and rural areas utilize. If services were increased at the Topeka VA vs the Leavenworth VA, it would benefit a higher number of veterans in the state of Kansas. In the video, Director Klopfer states: “I’ll tell you why we really need this. Because if we don’t, someone else will come here and say what Eastern Kansas is going to be like.” We believe services should stay where the veterans need them the most.

We still have a chance for our voices to be heard but we need your help. It is urgent that everyone: veterans, family, friends, coworkers, neighbors and local businesses consider signing and sharing this petition. If you would like to know more ways to help, please consider either writing, emailing and/or calling the Kansas Senators and Congressman plus Kansas VA officials and inform them of how important the Topeka Veteran Affairs Medical Center is for Kansas Veterans. Please help us keep these life-saving services, that Kansas Veterans have earned and deserve, at the Topeka VA.

Thank you,

https://www.change.org/p/mr-anthony-klopfer-director-va-of-eastern-kansas-support-eastern-central-kansas-veterans?source_location=petition_footer&algorithm=promoted&original_footer_petition_id=28660090&grid_position=8&pt=AVBldGl0aW9uAOSdsQEAAAAAYI4hILbyY5phODNiNWUxMA%3D%3D

Very good question… why is that DemocRATS?!!!!

Image

🇺🇸 Happy Memorial Day 🇺🇸