4-State veterans want solutions for homeless veterans

Mike Donovan is a Marine Corps veteran living in Joplin, who was homeless for the last four years. But that changed on Thursday.

“I signed a lease on an apartment today, about two hours ago,” said Donovan.

Earlier in the day, Mike was one of the many veterans visiting the Joplin Veteran Benefits Expo, and was encouraged to learn that many 4-State veterans are concerned about their brothers and sisters in arms who are currently homeless.

“We’ve got a lot of homeless vets. You see them everywhere. Just now we left Sam’s Club and there was two of them sitting there, asking for money and stuff. Had ‘V.A. Disabled American Veterans’ on their shirt,” said local veteran Ernie Perez.

Also in attendance were groups like Our Veterans First which is working on building a tiny home village, which will house homeless veterans for up to two years, and help them get their lives together.

“(We’ll provide) living skills to get their lives put back together. So hopefully, they’ll be able to do treatment while they’re in the process, job training, and education,” said Carla Gilstrap with Our Veterans First.

But back to Mike Donovan, who detailed the steps he took and the help he got to get the keys to his new home.

“First, I started at Economic Security, and someone gave me a little information there. Economic Security, since I was a vet, sent me over to Catholic Charities. And Catholic Charities took over and they started working with me. And Ozark Center was their too, they gave me a case worker,” said Donovan.

Mike now wants other veterans in his former situation to follow his path.

“There’s a lot of help out there man. Seek it out. They’re there, and they will help you with a smile. They don’t make you feel homeless,” said Donovan.

And he’s also got advice for the 4-Staters looking to help out our 4-state heroes who need a roof over their heads.

“More proactive and be patient. I’m not a patient person. Be patient and it will happen. It didn’t happen right away, but it will happen. You’ve got to stick with it,” said Donovan.