SEATTLE — Between 2007 and 2010, Nick McCallon served two tours in Iraq. Transitioning back into civilian life was one of the most difficult things he’s had to do.
“It’s really like trying to start life all over again. I lost everything I had just trying to pay the bills,” said McCallon.
“Living in my car brought me down to a whole new level I didn’t think I could get to,” said McCallon. “To the point I was contemplating suicide and everything else that comes along with PTSD, depression and joblessness on top of it.”
He’s not alone. New statistics from the Department of Veterans Affairs show the number of young homeless vets from Iraq and Afghanistan has tripled in the past two years, with an estimated 50,000 nationwide. In King County, one-third of all homeless adults are vets.
Mike Schindler with Operation Military Family is working with the state VA to simplify the transition process for veterans.
“There are over 256 steps these men and women are supposed to take when they decide not to re-enlist before getting a job. If they haven’t gotten accepted into a university, or they haven’t gotten into an apprenticeship program or a job now they’re on state unemployment,” said Schindler.
The VA does hold job fairs and other outreach events, but Schindler says those aren’t always helpful.
“It’s really almost like walking into CenturyLink and you have 62,000 different individuals with companies, corporations, non-profits all screaming, ‘We’re here to help!’ It’s, like, overwhelming, so you do nothing,” said Schindler.
Schindler would like to see more one-on-one help with counseling, and intervening before people leave the military so they don’t wind up in crisis.
In 2013, non-profits in WA State were awarded $6.1 million to serve veterans. To learn more about how to find help click here.
There are several organizations that can help homeless vets in our area including Catholic Community Services in Kent at 206-947-9746.
St. Martin de Porres Shelter is an overnight shelter located near the Coast Guard station on Seattle’s waterfront. It currently has a capacity of 212 men each night, with an additional 34 beds available in the winter through an arrangement with local churches. The shelter is open from 6:30 PM to 7:30 AM. VA case managers commonly frequent the shelter in the evening hours, connecting Veterans with resources. They can be reached at 206-256-0665 or 206-323-6341.