Local Mission Helping Vets At Local Level

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As we take time to remember and thank the veterans who have served our country, we also remember the sobering facts about the veterans who have no place to call home.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reports half a million veterans are homeless each year . . . but there is hope.

Today I found a local program that offers help to homeless veterans.

The Reno/Sparks Gospel Mission has served the homeless for the past 40 years. They provide, food, lodging, and most important - the resources that help people become independent.

We visited the mission and talked with one man who says it changed his life.

Some days more than 300 people receive a meal at the Reno/Sparks Gospel Mission on Third Street in downtown Reno.

But in that group, there are about 80 who are part of the ministry's 13-month long work recovery program. "The goal is to get them on their feet and back into society," says Chaplain Charles Williams.

One in three who get help are veterans.

Says Dennis Campbell, a Vietnam Veteran: "Like a lot of Vietnam War vets, my life was a mess. I was suffering from PTSD and I was out of control."

Dennis Campbell says the program offered more than food and counseling. "Its a Christian-based program. You get closer to god."

"We teach the bible from beginning to end," says Williams.

The program is taught in phases.

First come courses in emotion management . . . then how to beat substance abuse. Veterans finish by learning how to get back into the workforce and society.

Dennis is now working and supporting himself - but he still volunteers for the Mission. He says if another vet is watching, he wants to send this message: "Talk to the people here, come in and see what the program can offer, because there's just so much, there really is."

While the Department of Veterans Affairs does offer medical help and mental health counseling, even the department admits it only reaches 1 in 10 veterans nationwide.

It is in the gap that programs like these - at the local level - can make a difference.

If you'd like to know how to apply, call the Gospel Mission at 323-1560. They take applications Monday through Friday, from 8:30 to 11a.m.