Despite Chris Gardner’s incredible life story, made popular by actor Will Smith in the movie “The Pursuit of Happyness,” the Chicago entrepeneur is most proud of his service in the Navy.

But he doesn’t want to hear, “Thank you for your service.”  He wants to us all to back up our words with deeds.

“I think one of the first things that everyone in the country can do is to accept that the words, ‘Thank you for your service,’ will never be enough,” Gardner said. “I think all of us can look around our communities and say, ‘What can I do?’ Not, ‘well the government should do this, the city should do that, or this organization should do that.’

“There’s one thing we should all agree on and that is simple… You should not be a hero in Afghanistan and homeless in America.”

Now the owner and CEO of Chicago brokerage firm Gardner Rich & Co LLC, Gardner recently attended a homeless stand down for women Veterans at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center in Chicago, where he presented a donation to the VA Voluntary Service at the hospital.  He also committed to attending other VA homeless stand downs throughout the country in the future.

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Published on Dec. 1, 2015

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  1. stan Stanley December 14, 2015 at 2:02 pm

    after serving this country and fighting for freedom,you have to fight like hell for benefits you should be entitled..its sad…Imagine what this country would be like if there were no veterans

  2. Janet Fountain December 12, 2015 at 7:34 pm

    Mr.Chris Gardner..I want to apologize to you for calling you my previous comment..Please let me know how I can work with you if you come to Phoenix Az
    I truly believe this problem can be solved if every military person who separates honorably is guaranteed a job at the pay they exit the military in the job field they were trained and taught to do with discipline! They deserve this respect! Jobs..not homelessness!!

  3. Janet Fountain December 12, 2015 at 12:06 pm

    That would solve homelessness for veterans and allow them to keep their dignity, respect and honor..which all deserve NO MATTER WHAT THEIR JOB WAS! THEY GAVE THEIR TIME AND SACRIFICED.TO PROTECT OTHERS AND THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA..

  4. Janet Fountain December 12, 2015 at 11:58 am

    Hello..I think you are awesome Mr Moore and I would like to know if you will ever be in Phoenix Arizona..I would like to work with you on resolving the vetetans issues especially homelessness. The way I see it if a military person is separating there should be a plan for him/her..They should KNOW they can go somewhere and discuss PREPARING FOR A JOB..six months in advance of separating..and KNOW.when they get out that job is waiting for them! My son Joseph has been through a lot like you..He was in the USAF active duty from 2000 to 2004..I encouraged him to separate due to the wars and his life became a nightmare for 10 years as a civilian..Now he is trying to be active military AGAIN..because he has been beat up as a veteran..ALL HE WANTED WAS A DECENT JOB GETTING OUT OF USAF ON A HONORABLE DISCHARGE WITH SECURITY CLEARANCE BEING PART OF SECURITY FORCES!! THAT’S THE PROBLEM..THE MILITARY SHOULD BE ABLE TO WALK INTO JOBS THEY WERE TRAINED TO DO SO WELL!…I WOULD LOVE TO GO WITH YOU TO SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN’S OFFICE HERE IN PHOENIX AND TRY TO WORK ON “MILITARY DEFINITELY GETTING A GUARANTEED JOB UPON SEPARATING”..THANK YOU SO MUCH! JANET FOUNTAIN.

  5. Eric Rearden December 7, 2015 at 2:41 pm

    We encounter the same difficulties as non-veterans. Let’s also acknowledge that being homeless can be the result of our repeated bad decisions, despite good health, finances and family support. And, if a veteran served for several years never going into harms way, what responsibility does society have versus he or she in preventing homelessness? We are first and foremost responsible for ourselves. A helping hand is one thing, and those negatively impacted by combat or other trauma deserve extra help. But those leaving military service unscathed should NOT receive that extra help. Service and benefits are provided by the VA based on service connected priority and none VA services should follow a similar model.

    • Janet Fountain December 12, 2015 at 12:16 pm


  6. Rob moore December 6, 2015 at 11:42 pm

    But yet the VA won’t offer temp. housing to a vet and his pregnant girlfriend. Been sleeping in my Jeep for a week in the winter.

    • Dan Schafer December 7, 2015 at 2:01 pm

      where are you guys rob? close enough, can come stay here for a bit

      • Rob Moore December 7, 2015 at 10:51 pm

        Upstate NY. Might have a friend with a couch for a night or two.

    • Elizabeth McDonald December 8, 2015 at 10:29 am

      Hi Mr. Moore! First off, thank you for your service! I work for VA Homeless in Upstate NY. What part of Upstate New York are you located in? Is there a number we could reach you at? If you prefer, you can also call the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans hotline at 1-877-4AID VET (1-877-424-3838). The hotline is intended to assist homeless Veterans and their families, VA Medical Centers, federal, state and local partners, community agencies, service providers and others in the community. They’ll help get you connected to the correct Homeless team in your area. Here is a link for more information: Please let us know how we can reach you or please call the hotline number. Thank you!
      Elizabeth McDonald

  7. Genius H. Kennard December 5, 2015 at 2:53 pm

    I’m one of those Homeless Vets in Miami that got kicked out of the Rescue Mission for not maintaining a job which is impossible knowing that I need my disability to be granted to maintain a place to live. Just about everyone is lying about
    their so-called help for veterans P.S. I have Service Connected injuries that the VA pretends that they don’t see in my
    (S.T.R’s) Service Treatment Records! contact me if you can really help a fellow veteran

  8. DannyG December 2, 2015 at 11:58 am

    I’m glad our brother made it! Mrs. Obama, Sen, McCain, etc., if they are all so concerned abt vets in this election year, why don’t they donate “big time” to vet charities? Out of 8 (?)houses, couldn’t the good Senator let one be used for homeless vets? Everybody wants to look good on Veteran’s Day, & feed the vets, what abt the rest of the year? Buying 114 houses for vets makes a country singer look good, but WHY only for post-9/11/01 vets? That’s another thing – if you really want to HONOR the ppl that died on that day, HONOR that day in 2001; not just 9/11 – there have been many non-eventful 9/11s.
    Post-Vietnam /pre-9/11/01 vets are unrecognized & seemingly ineligible for any charitable assistance, even though there were 3 conflicts during my tenure – 1976 – 1985. Check your records; we qualify as American Veterans, too! How about some help for US !?

  9. James A> Tadlock December 1, 2015 at 9:42 pm

    Should never be homeless and also they should never be left to live in sub-standard living conditions. I hear about how veterans should be allowed to live in dignity however there are many who are living in way below standard conditions. I rode on the DAV van to the hospital recently and most of the ones picked up were in sub-standard living conditions or just plain homeless. One guy going in for chemo-therapy was living in a very much run down trailer park. The driver went to the door and got him. I don’t know about his caretaker.

  10. Eugene J. Winters December 1, 2015 at 3:53 pm

    Your right on vet should be homeless, but the reality is that many vets are and don’t see any help comming. We can spend thoughts to help other counties feed their poeple, but we can’t spend five cents to house ourer vets. We have bridges falling down all over this country. Roads that need repairs, but we can’t fixs them since we have to send thoughts over seas to help others fix their homes, roads, bridges and feed thier people. Take sone of that money and put hourer vets to work rebulding ourer bridges, roads, houses and feeding ourer people. The vets don’t want hand outs from the VA give us jobs rebulding our cities, towns and roads. Let us live in dignatie by giving us jobs that will help us pay ourer way and let us stand on our own two feet.

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