Memorial Day: Remembering those who have sacrificed for our freedom and supporting our Veterans by Kellie Brungard, GPC

This Memorial Day, we recognize the sacrifice those who serve our country have made; through their time, families, and, ultimately, their lives. Assel Grant Services recognizes and pays gratitude to those who have served our country and takes this time to acknowledge the history, a mission moment, and funding opportunities for organizations supporting Veterans.

While the weekend has grown to symbolize the start of summer – with barbeques, lake trips, and retail discounts – it originated in the years after the Civil War, which ended in the spring of 1865. This time was used to pay tribute to countless fallen soldiers by decorating their graves with flowers and reciting prayers. People began using a red poppy as a remembrance symbol, according to, in reference to a poem written by a World War I Veteran. In 2000, U.S. Congress passed legislation encouraging all Americans to pause for a National Moment of Remembrance at 3:00 p.m. local time. Memorial Day honors the lives of fallen military members nationwide, while Veteran’s Day commemorates the service of all military members, living and passed.

Mission Moment: Benilde Hall

Located on the east side of downtown Kansas City, Missouri, Benilde Hall has more than 20 years of experience serving veterans who are experiencing homelessness, mental illness, and/or substance use disorder (SUD). The agency serves an average of 500 adult males (ages 18 and up) annually, providing 125 beds in total; nearly 60% of clients served are veterans. Data from the 2020 Point-In-Time (PIT) count shows that after many years of seeing decreases in the number of veterans living unsheltered, that number is now rising. It’s estimated there are close to 40,000 veterans experiencing homelessness in the United States. These individuals are one of the most at-risk populations, as they are more likely to be in poor health and have higher rates of mental illness, SUD, and suicide. Benilde Hall delivers comprehensive housing and support services to many veterans referred from the local Veterans Affairs (VA) medical center each year. Services include intensive counseling and case management, group therapy, a work therapy program, group sessions, and aftercare services, ensuring they have all the tools and resources they need to become self-sufficient.

In 2021, Benilde Hall received a capital grant from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to fund the construction of a new wing of their facility specifically for veterans, creating additional private rooms. The rising construction expenses and site requirements throughout COVID-19 increased the cost of the project. Benilde Hall was able to secure the additional funding needed from the Sunderland Foundation and is now in the final phase of construction. Once complete, Benilde Hall will be able to serve 165 veterans annually.

Over the years, AGS has worked with Benilde Hall as they grow to meet the needs of veteran and civilian residents of the greater Kansas City community, providing impactful services as a low-barrier emergency shelter option for men experiencing homelessness and SUD. For 30 years, Benilde Hall has delivered housing, mental health, SUD, and support services to more than 5,000 males experiencing homelessness in Kansas City.

Funding Opportunities

  • The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has several grant programs to support President Lincoln’s promise “to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan.” These include the Veterans Cemetery Grants Program, the Rural Veterans Coordination Pilot, and the Grant and Per Diem Program. While the program deadlines for 2023 have passed, they tend to be annual opportunities.
  • The Bob Woodruff Foundation funds programmatic efforts serving the military and veteran community, focusing on programs that improve the overall health and well-being of service members, veterans, their families, and caregivers. Programs of interest include improving social determinants of health, decreasing barriers to accessing physical and mental healthcare, increasing accessibility to programming that fosters a healthy lifestyle, and/or enhancing opportunities for veterans to thrive after service. Applications are accepted year-round and are awarded twice a year through Spring and Fall grant cycles. Submit by January 12th for a June 1st response and by June 15th for a November 1st
  • The Veterans Support Foundation (VSF) serves the unaddressed needs of today’s veterans and their families. Their programs include supportive housing for homeless veterans, service officer programs to help veterans obtain health and financial compensation for service-incurred disabilities, and discretionary grants. The grant program provides funding for scientific, charitable, and educational projects supporting veteran-related projects, with priority toward matching fund projects. Projects must prove beneficial to veterans and develop a track record of providing needed services. Recently awarded projects offered transportation and health services to homeless veterans, brought WWII veterans to Washington D.C. to see military memorials, and helped wounded service members and their families attend camp. Applications are due on midnight of March 31st each year, with awards made in late June.

However you are spending Memorial Day weekend, take a moment to reflect on the ways those who have sacrificed their lives have impacted yours and learn about the ways your community supports veterans and military personnel.

This BLOG is aligned with the Grant Professional Certification Institute’s Competencies and Skills

Competency #1: Knowledge of how to research, identify, and match funding resources to meet specific needs

Skill 3.3: Identify methods of locating funding sources

Skill 3.6: Identify fundable programs and projects for specific organization

Skill 3.7: Identify existing community resources that aid in developing programs and projects

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