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Veterans honored with housing, jobs and meals

From housing assistance to free meals, Bay Area men and women who served their country have more to look forward to this Veterans Day besides parades and ceremonies.

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More than 100 veterans who called the streets of San Francisco their home now have more comfortable surroundings to live, while others are getting help finding jobs.

As part of an initiative to provide housing for homeless veterans, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said the city has found homes for 110 “chronically homeless” veterans during a 100-day period.

The mayor’s office said the initiative was part of a broader federal goal to get homeless veterans into comfortable housing. Last month, the number of  homeless veterans in San Francisco was cut by 30 percent from 2011 and 2013.

Lee said men and women who serve in the U.S. Armed Forces deserve the greatest respect and dignity for having sacrificed for our country:

“San Francisco is committed to making sure our veterans who are returning home get the services they need and deserve, including permanent supportive housing.”

Still, according to the mayor’s office, San Francisco continues to have a higher proportion of chronically homeless veterans than average. The term “chronically homeless” includes veterans living with disabilities who’ve been homeless long-term.

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In addition to helping veterans find housing, The City — and not-for-profit service group Swords to Plowshares — are joining efforts to help veterans find jobs.

The mayor’s office announced Friday a new initiative that provides an employment center, or “Veterans Access Point,” with job counseling and workshops. Its other support services includes computers, fax and copy machines.

Michael Blecker, executive director of Swords to Plowshares, said of the joint effort with The City:

“We have been providing veteran employment services since our beginnings in 1974. We are looking forward to yet another meaningful partnership with the City and County of San Francisco, which is once again demonstrating unprecedented support for veterans and community-based providers like Swords to Plowshares.”

According to the mayor’s office, the new access point has already enrolled 36 veterans, 24 of whom are now in permanent jobs in San Francisco.

The facility is located at the Swords to Plowshares office at 1060 Howard Street in San Francisco.

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Meanwhile, some dining establishments are offering free food, or at least a cup of coffee to veterans during the holiday.

At participating restaurants, California Pizza Kitchen is offering any pizza on its menu for free to any veteran or person on active duty on Veterans Day. Chain restaurant Applebee’s is also offering a free signature entree at any location.

For those who prefer breakfast, Denny’s is offering all-you-can-eat buttermilk pancakes at no charge to all active, inactive and retired military personnel between 6 a.m. till 2 p.m. on Veterans Day.

John Dillon, Denny’s vice president of marketing, notes on the chain’s website:

“We’re thankful for the sacrifices these outstanding men and women have made, and we hope they’ll join us on Veterans Day for a small taste of our gratitude.”

Meanwhile, Hooters is flashing its Veterans Day spirit by offering veterans and active duty personnel a free meal of up to $10.99, with any drink purchase, at all of its locations.

For veterans with a sweet tooth, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts is offering a free doughnut and small coffee to anyone in uniform or with a military ID, while caffeine giant Starbucks is offering a free tall coffee to veterans, active duty military and their spouses at participating company-owned stores.

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