Shelton’s Kozlowsky honored for work with struggling veterans

Shelton’s Kozlowsky honored for work with struggling veterans

SHELTON – For Robert Kozlowsky, aiding military veterans in need has become a passion.

The longtime Shelton resident – known locally for his two decades serving on the police force – has run marathons and dedicated time with organizations like Homes for the Brave and General Needs, all to raise awareness about those veterans who are desperate to rebuild their lives.

“Selfishly, I think I have gotten more out of Homes for the Brave than I have given,” Kozlowsky said about the organization where he has spent the past two years as board chair.

Kozlowsky says his greatest honor is knowing he has helped at least one military veteran rebuild their life, have a roof over their head, new clothes and have a hot meal.

Last month, the spotlight shone on Kozlowsky, as the police lieutenant earned the Bridgeport Elks Lodge 36 and the Grand Lodge, Benevolent Protective Order of Elks’ Distinguished Citizenship Award.

“I have developed great friendships and have done some amazing things because of the organization,” Kozlowsky said. “The most important thing I learned at Homes for the Brave was that everyone has a story. To learn what some of the men and women who served our country have gone through is unbelievable. The resiliency of these individuals is remarkable. To watch their successful transition is amazing.”

As board chair with Homes for the Brave, a Bridgeport-based operation that has served more than 1,200 homeless men and women, mostly veterans, with housing, vocational training and life skills coaching, Kozlowsky dedicated his time to developing one-on-one relationships with the veterans

That was until the pandemic changed the dynamic. Much of the later portion of his term was spent working with the executive staff, finding ways to keep the facility open while adhering to the state mandates. That meant less one-on-one time, but Kozlowsky said the work of the board and staff members was vital to keeping the veterans in need fed and housed.

In 2002 Homes for the Brave opened a 42-bed transitional housing program, based at 655 Park Ave., that is available to male veterans and non-veterans who are homeless. The staff focuses on helping every individual achieve their goals for housing, employment and independent living.

Kozlowsky has completed his term as chair, but remains on the board of directors. He is also a board member at General Needs, which was founded in 2008 to assist homeless veterans and veterans by providing new daily-living clothing. This can include cold weather items such as coats, jackets, hats, scarves, ski gloves, thermal underwear/socks, sweatshirts, sweatpants, and blankets, and also footwear; and toiletries.

Kozlowsky’s work at General Needs consists of raising awareness of suicides among military veterans. He said there is an average of 22 military veterans die by suicide daily. In November and December, the group plans to donate 1,342 pairs of boots (22 a day for 61 days over the two months) and 8,030 pairs of socks (22 a day for an entire year) to those in desperate need.

“We all agree that there shouldn’t be homeless veterans in the U.S.,” Kozlowsky said. “Some will debate and say the government should do more but talking won’t help these brave men and women in need.”

He said he hoped that one day there would be no homeless veterans in the country.

“But until that point, the staff, board of directors, and advisory board members of Homes for the Brave and General Needs will be there to do our part,” he said.

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