Area Homeless Veterans Receive Assistance

About a thousand homeless people, many of them veterans, were expected to receive assistance at the 12th annual Columbus Stand Down Tuesday. The event, geared toward veterans, offers employment, medical and social assistance to displaced people and their families.

A hair cut was just one of the many services offered at the Columbus Stand Down to the displaced and needy. People could also receive various physical and mental health services like blood pressure and cholesterol checks, as well as employment and housing counseling.

This event was organized 12 years ago to help area veterans, many of them homeless. But Debbie Gorman who’s a volunteer with the VFW Ladies Auxiliary said no one is denied help.

“Our main purpose is to try to get these people out of the shelters, off the streets and into a more productive life,” Gorman said.

Nathaniel Hatcher is a Vietnam Veteran and an out-of-work union carpenter. Hatcher came to Columbus last week from West Virginia in search of a job, and is homeless.

“I would appreciate all the help I can get as far as working. I’m not looking for a hand out. I’m a well able-bodied man. I’m 55 years old, but I’m still, I work like I’m 25. And I believe I can be an asset to anybody’s company,” Hatcher said.

Hatcher is not alone. The Department of Veterans’ Affairs says about a third of all homeless adults are veterans.

42-year-old William Hastings is a Persian Gulf War veteran and has been homeless for three years. Hastings said permanent housing is hard to find because he has no transportation.

“Kind of being displaced has been a little difficult, but I think some of the services I found today are going to work out,” Hastings said.

After serving in the Marines for four years, Hastings was discharged for an injury to his arm. He said returning to civilian life was a challenge.

“We’re trained to obey and do certain things, and follow rules. And everybody else around us, sometimes, they don’t have that background. And it might be hard to deal with that. You lose patience,” Hastings said.

Hatcher, the Vietnam Vet from West Virginia, received the names and number of several companies that are hiring, and he remains hopeful he’ll find a job in Columbus.

“Even though my surroundings may not be top of the line, if given a couple of months, two or three months here in Columbus, Ohio, I expect hopefully to be if not 100 percent back on track, right now I’d settle for what percentage I do have,” Hatcher said.

According to the VA, almost all homeless veterans are single men.