The emotional and physical toll on vietnam veterans is well documented.....the term Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome was coined during the era...decades later some vietnam veterans still have trouble coping..
Chad Harris a Vietnam Veteran explains. " Some of these guys today are still living in vans, traveling around and are lost and really have no sense of direction."
Chad Harris was one of those veterans who lived out of his van for years at a time. Its where he stayed when he came to the Veterans Hospital here in Reno looking for medical care. Lack of money and waiting for appointments all day made it his only option...an option veteran Chuck Fulkerson says was unacceptable. "Tto ask a veteran who served his country as a draftee... he is getting medical care at the hospital and has to sleep in his car or his family has to sleep in his car while he gets treatment its unconscionable."
In 19-94 Fulkerson and others got together and opened the first of its kind veterans house across the street from the hospital. 1300 square feet with four beds..it was something to offer vets he said. But then in 2004 everything changed.
Chad Harris remembers coming out of the veterans hospital and looking across the street, ": And I'd seen the old building with a hole in the ground the old building was gone and I thought that was just a terrible thing."
But what Chad didn't realize, the space left by the old house would be replaced by something grander. With the help of private donations and services...four beds went to 12 --13-hundred square feet to 47-hundred all in six month's time.
\Noreen Leary the Veterans Guest House Executive Directors says you might be surprised at just who uses the house. " We have everything from a six week old stay here to someone who is 85 and older."
For a donation of 25-dollars veterans and immediate family members can stay at the home with advanced reservations. Leary says about 50-percent of the guests are able to pay that amount...but, no one is turned away because of lack of funds. With the help of continued private donations the house runs on a two-hundred-thousand dollar a year budget. By all accounts the house is a success story and one that other cities are trying to emulate. That fact comes as no surprise to Chad. ": This isn't just a fluke I mean this is actually....this building will be a benefit to veterans as long as it stands."
If you'd like more information on the veterans house or would like to make a donation go to our website at kolotv.com we've set up a link page for you.