New Effort Underway To Reach Out To Homeless Veterans In Columbus

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UPDATED: Wednesday July 30, 2014 6:42 PM

They've lived lives of service in the military.  Now, they live lives of desperation: without shelter, food, or a place to call home.

The Veterans Administration is now leading a new effort to help homeless veterans move from the streets to stability.

Kenneth Miller knows the pride of serving his country. But today, he won't call himself a proud man.  "I've eaten out of trash cans. I've begged for money," Miller said.

Miller has been homeless on and off for the past 25 years.

Mental illness and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder are the demons that won't let him rest.  "I had a lot of paranoia. I was afraid of everything," he said.

In his time on the streets, he's met many a fellow veteran.  "There's a lot of veterans out there who are artistic, who are super intelligent, who can do things you would not believe, and they need help."

Connecting them to that help is the focus of a new collaborative effort spearheaded by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

"In addition to obtaining housing and getting a secure place, we also want to provide wrap-around support so they can sustain that," said Carl Landry with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

On Wednesday, at Veterans Memorial that included connections to health care (mental and physical), legal assistance, and financial resources.

"I think it's important for people to understand what it means to support individuals beyond just this notion of 'thank you for your service' to develop a deeper understanding of what a person goes through," Landry said. 

It’s an epiphany Kenneth Miller just recently came to- realizing that his illness had stolen from him all sense of purpose or direction.

"I'm 55 years old,” he said. “And it shot through my heart like an arrow and I still feel it."

Today, he feels the security of a roof over his head at this Volunteers of America shelter, and the clear, focused mind of a man in recovery.

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