While Memorial Day is officially a weekend to remember those servicemen and women who didn't make it home, it's also powerful to thank those who did make it home, but often struggle to find a home.

For more than 20 years Valor House in Missoula has been doing just that, and marking the recent transition from a shelter for homeless vets, to a place offering more permanent opportunities as they work to adjust to civilian life.

And a Missoula business is giving people a chance to say "thank you" with comfort and hope.

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A powerful change in making change

Valor House opened in 2005, and the partnership between the Missoula Housing Authority and the Veterans' Administration was initially started to help homeless veterans. That served nearly 300 veterans. That shifted last year.

"Best practice seemed to be well, if somebody's homeless, let's give them permanent housing, not temporary housing where they get some help for a little while," explains Missoula Housing Authority Director Jim McGrath. "We wanted to shift the way that we do it."

"It's now units for permanent housing. That means the veterans move in from homelessness, they get services from VA. And they stay as long as they want to."

McGrath says they also continue to receive services, from family support to employment.

Community support has been critical

McGrath says it's always been "really good" to see how Missoula supports the veterans and Valor House. And that includes local businesses, like Xplorer Maps, which is teaming up with a special "Buy and Blanket, Give a Blanket" program.

Xplorer Maps photo
Xplorer Maps photo

"Lots of folks, including now, Xplorer Maps that want to step forward and say, 'hey, you know, let's help these folks out with a little'. You know, something extra that we can give them," McGrath notes.

Xplorer Maps Co-owner Greg Robitaille explains teaming up was the brainchild of Marketing Director Tara Shiseler.

Xplorer Maps photo
Xplorer Maps photo

"We've always just defaulted to the Memorial Day sales, so we wanted to do something that was a little bit more meaningful," Robitaille tells me. "And Missoula Housing Authority and valor. House and Veterans, Inc. seemed to be like a great fit."


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