Anonymous donor helps Philly’s homeless vets get back on their feet

 In this November 2013 photo, homeless Korean War veteran Thomas Moore, 79, left, speaks with Boston Health Care for the Homeless street team outreach coordinator Romeena Lee on a sidewalk in Boston. Moore said he accidentally killed his best friend with a phosphorous grenade during one firefight and spent months afterward at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. (Steven Senne/AP Photo)

In this November 2013 photo, homeless Korean War veteran Thomas Moore, 79, left, speaks with Boston Health Care for the Homeless street team outreach coordinator Romeena Lee on a sidewalk in Boston. Moore said he accidentally killed his best friend with a phosphorous grenade during one firefight and spent months afterward at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. (Steven Senne/AP Photo)

Philadelphia’s homeless veterans are getting some additional legal help, thanks to an anonymous donor.

The Homeless Advocacy Project recently received a $50,000 donation to provide legal service to homeless veterans in Philadelphia. While the organization provides free legal services and already holds legal clinics for Philadelphia’s homeless vets, some veterans still need help they’re not getting, said Marsha Cohen, executive director of the Homeless Advocacy Project.  “For veterans, the primary service that we provide is to turn on veterans benefits and veterans pension benefits and those are essentially to prove that our military men and women were injured while in the line of service,” Cohen said. “And if we can show that that happened, we are able to turn on very high benefits for life.” Cohen said those benefits allow vets who have become homeless to live independently and rejoin the workforce. That should allow them to get to the point in their lives where they could have been had they never been injured in combat.

There’s benefit too to helping vets before they become homeless, Cohen said.

“If we can intervene and bring in our services immediately — when folks start to feel like things are not going well for them — we are fully equipped now to make sure that we put people back together before they spiral into homelessness,” she said. Cohen said the anonymous donor plans to contribute $50,000 for this work every year.

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