Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Missouri Air NG tackles Homeless vet issue

Wing's New Mission: Aid Homeless Vets
Knight Ridder/Tribune December 19, 2007Volunteers at the Advanced Airlift Tactics Training Center and the 139th Airlift Wing of the Missouri Air National Guard want to tackle the problem of homeless veterans in Northwest Missouri.
Col. Stephen Cotter, Wing commander, approved having the meeting on base for an enthusiastic airman who will lead the effort -- Col. Mike McEnulty.
"I was taken aback by the numbers of homeless vets after a meeting with Mike Feurt," McEnulty said.
Feurt is the chairman of the Missouri Department of American Legions' Homeless Veterans Task Force, and a tireless volunteer worker on veterans' issues.
InterServ and Catholic Charities explained the current situation. Airmen and women who may be able to bring their own expertise to assist in dealing with the homeless problem also attended.
Currently in St. Joseph, a Continuum of Care group composed of all the service agencies that work with the homeless strive to find helpful solutions, said David Howery, InterServ's executive director.
Because of the number of males who are homeless, they have been the main focus of the group, Howery said.
Each year there are 60 to 80 homeless men in the city, according to InterServ's reports. About one-third to a half of that group are veterans, the report states. The majority of homeless veterans are from the Vietnam war.
A cold weather shelter was one of the first solutions and something that is still a vital part of the program, he said. The shelter opened Monday night next door to the Juda House and will be open until March 17.
Juda House, 700 Olive St., was the next part of the puzzle and can house 16 men, Howery said. The next piece will be Safe Haven. Construction will begin there in March, he said.
The Air Guard volunteers will meet with the Continuum of Care group in January and plans to have state officials on site to discuss ways to step up the effort to change the lives of homeless veterans.

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