Initiative aims to end veteran homelessness - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Initiative aims to end veteran homelessness

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Our nation's heroes need our help, and many need a place to call home. Veterans make up a large percentage of the country's homeless population. But support is on its way.

They put their lives on the line for our country but many come home and struggle to survive. Vietnam veteran Charles Parish knows that struggle all too well.

"Yes, it's tough. I'm sick and I'm homeless. I have to lug all this here around with me all the time. Two bags. All the time," said Charles Parish.

Parish isn't alone. An estimated 67,000 veterans are homeless,  according to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans.

"The VA alone cannot end homelessness. It's going to take the community as well," said Kimberly Knight, VA Homeless Program Coordinator.

Mississippi is set to receive $2.86 million in October. It will be distributed to various non-profits willing to help our heroes. Catholic Charities is slated to get $457,000 of that to start their first ever project for homeless vets.

"The object of the program is to help people stabilize their housing situation. Whether it's a veteran and their family that are homeless currently and need to find permanent housing. Or someone who's been living in a transitional situation and needs to find permanent housing," explained Catholic Charities Director Greg Patin.

Still, the VA and the charities know there are challenges in getting the message of hope out there. Many veterans are too proud to admit they need the help and don't seek it out.

"Us going to the veterans themselves. Looking under the bridges, going to the shelters, asking around. Hey, have you seen any homeless veterans. If so, here's my card. Please call us," said Knight.

The initiative aims to break through the hopeless thinking of the homeless.

"I am homeless. I've been homeless ever since 1986," Parish said.

But this new program is ready to move people like Parish off the streets and into a home.

Some assistance programs are already in place and showing success. Homelessness among veterans has declined by 17.2 percent since 2009, when the initiative was announced

Copyright 2013 MSNewsNow. All rights reserved.

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