Raleigh County

Program through Beckley VA Medical Center helps homeless veterans find a home

- (WVNS) - Homelessness is a problem communities continue to battle across the country, and nationwide one in 10 people who are homeless are veterans.

A program at the Beckley Veteran's Affairs Medical Center, also call known at the VA, is helping find hundreds of homeless veterans in Southern West Virginia a place to call their own. The program is called HUD- Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing programs- also called HUD-VASH.

"They're apartments within our community and within the eleven counties the VA covers," Tracy Hamb, Healthcare for Homeless Veterans Program Coordinator, said. Hamb goes on to say the program is currently housing 140 veterans who were once homeless in the area, with three spots still available. "I think it's more of a problem than people realize; however, our facility has reduced homelessness by 51% within the last year."

Local veteran Kenneth Cleveland said thanks to this program, he's getting a new shot at life. "I lost my home. I lost everything," Cleveland said.

When he was just 17-years-old, Cleveland joined the Marines. After proudly serving, he came home and at a steel company in Indiana for more than 30 years. Shortly after retiring, he realized his income was not enough to survive. "Insurance, I couldn't afford insurance. That's why I started coming to the VA. It was $800 a month and I made no-where near that."

After several years without a place to call home, Cleveland said help from the VA was his only hope. "When the VA found me a place to live, it was like I was a 17-year-old kid just starting in life again," Cleveland said. "I can't give the VA praise enough, I am sure I would be dead if it weren't for the VA."

If you or someone you know is a homeless veteran or at risk of being homeless and would like help, click here for more information.

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