New shelter opens for homeless veterans

Chapel opens for homeless veterans and pets

PORTLAND, Ore. -- After the parades and speeches about sacrifice and gratitude, hundreds of vets in our area will struggle tonight to find a place to sleep.

The First Congregational Church in downtown Portland is opening its chapel to 13 homeless veterans and their animals starting tonight. The nonprofit Do Good for Multnomah is in charge of screening vets for the new program.

Oregon's rate of homelessness is among the highest in the nation. When you talk to those living on the streets, it doesn't take long to meet men and women who served our country.

"They threw bags of crap at us and called us baby killers,"said Ron Holloway.  He's been homeless for so long, he can't remember when the nightmare started. "I've been out here forever and I never killed no babies."

According to the Veterans Affair's latest statistics, the average age of a homeless vet in our area is 53. A large influx of vets returning from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has led to more programs aimed at helping vets, however, many vets, especially older ones still fall through the cracks.

"I found this place through the VA here in Vancouver," said Daniel Keen Jr. 

He's a success story. After losing his job and living in his car in Clark Count,y the VA referral service helped him find a job and a place to live.

"You know I think the help is available for vets if they can go out and work the system," said Keen Jr.  "I think it still takes to long, but there are more options out there now." 

The VA does have a referral service that partners with many other organizations to help vets in need. If you or someone you know is a vet who needs help, you can contact the community resource and referral center at 503-808-1256.

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