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Number of young homeless vets triples in past 2 years

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.

With no job prospects, Nick quickly became homeless.

“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.

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18 comments

  • Robert Black

    I saw the report on Nick Mccallon today. my name is robert black I am the owner of Hawaiian Construction LLC. we are located in Monroe Washington.If he is in the Seattle / Snohomish area job and his current job does not work out please have him call me.I will hire him to work for me as well. I will train him in our business. I am a general contractor out of Monroe Washington. We are small family business but it’s really hard for me to hear that are vets who fight for our country cannot I find a job that’s ridiculous companies should reach out to help these people they did a lot for us and we all know that much. Please have Nick if he’s interested to call me at area code 206 356 5099. Again my name is robert black and I look forward to your response thank you

  • S_Hunter

    I just find it CRIMINALLY insane that our "government" has BILLIONS of dollars to send overseas, but CAN'T AFFORD TO PROPERLY CARE for those it asks to sacrifice for their country.

  • brooks

    This breaks my heart and brings me back to my nightmare of being alone and living in the woods of seabeck, wa after desert storm in 92, please everyone reach out to your vets and help them, do not take no for a answer, since they have lots of pride, I wish, I was rich, I would help the poor & vets everyday of my life. God bless them, Can not believe this is still happening in 2014. GOD BLESS ARE VETS!

  • Viper

    What ever happened to a military career? My dad was 32 years in the Air Force, and retired with a pension and free medical for life. He saw combat in 3 separate engagements ,and never considered jumping out as soon as he got back.

    The problem might fix itself if people looked at the service as more than a stepping stone.

  • 641ao

    Veterans don’t always have the option for a military career. The military isn’t the same as 20 or 30 years ago.the military downsizes often, especially if thiers no room for advancement. Sometimes the best option is getting out when thier commitment is finished. The transition from soldier to civilian is difficult for some and as much as many of these veterans organizations out there say they will help, they only help a select few. Many are turned away. Just because the soldier who filed medical records as a career gets great opportunities doesn’t mean an 11b gets the same. Thiers a big separation between HQ and Combat. These men coming out of combat are usually battling a significant amount of expectations that they weren’t prepared for while serving.

  • weirs1

    The VA has programs specifically for the homeless vet, to get him or her back on their feet…they need to call and use the program, many don't because they have substance abuse problems…a job fair is not going to help a homeless vet…they need shelter first, then look for work..

    • gwen

      The VA knows about their programs, but often have no time or claim to have no time to tell or explain about the programs. Others only tell a select group of persons ("our girls", "Our Boys")

  • Bob

    This is so wrong. And we can thank the Republicans for their treatment. The first thing they did when they sent these young folks to war was to cut their benefits. Then when they returned they cut them even farther. The hypocrisy of the republicans is only out shined by their complete lack of morals. The claim to be proud Americans and Christians yet they spit on our Vet's, promote hate, intolerance, war, bigotry and torture. These so called "Christians" promote and advocate everything the Devil teaches.

    Robert Black you need to be commended for your offer.

  • TMT

    Many employers do not follow the courtesy of hiring a veteran first, even colleges. I had to point out a law stating you could not refuse a veteran who applied to college, yes I had the money, to be admitted when I was discharged. The landlords and managers of apartments could help out too. Many apartments cost more than the mortgage payment of a home to rent. Most soldiers do not come out of the service with 2000.00 for rent, deposit, security, utilities, food, transportation let alone computers, clothing, just within the first month. Veterans decades ago could buy a home with nothing down. It is not political it is just not being veterans-congress needs to come back to the real world. Something is wrong when inmates when released from prison are treated the same way as veterans.

  • Heather

    What about HUD-VASH? Contact local VA and inquire. I have the privilege of working to house homeless vets but sadly am on the other side of the US. HUD-VASH is a national program through a joint collaboration with HUD and Dept of Vet Affairs for this very thing.
    Veterans Crisis Line. 1-800-273-8255. Press 1. Or text 838255
    1-877-424-3838. For homeless or imminent homelessness.

    There is help available we just need to get word out and yes we care, we care VERY much and are grateful to those who gave so freely so we can have freedom.

  • nicky

    As a Vet I can tell you, I would rather die then go to the VA hospital most days. There is so much red tape. Unless you are unemployed there is no availability for counseling, at least in Oklahoma City. They tell me to go to the Vet Center. Many Vets do have a substance abuse problem. So many days I wish I could drink the pain away.