Joplin group aims to end veteran homelessness

Joplin group aims to end veteran homelessness
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According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, in 2017, there were over 40,000 homeless veterans living in the United States.

A new group in Joplin is dedicated to helping the homeless veteran population in our area…

Patrick Kelly reflects on his nearly 10 years of service in the army and how it felt to come home.

“It’s kind of a rough adjustment when you’re trying to find a different sort of purpose,” he admitted.

After two tours to Iraq and one to Afghanistan, Kelly was fortunate enough to have a support system with friends and family, but he knows that’s not the case for everyone. It’s why he and dozens of others are a part of a growing group: Our Veterans First, dedicated to building transitional housing for homeless vets.

“If you can take away the barrier of trying to figure out where you’re going to sleep that night, where your next meal is coming from, then you can really start to chip away at the things you need to get accomplished in order to get back on your feet and find your purpose on the civilian side,” said Kelly.

Michelle Lee got the idea for the project after seeing a tiny home community for veterans in Kansas City. Just a few short months later, and Lee is looking to bring that same concept to Joplin, hunting for 10 to 15 acres to build the housing, as the group seeks nonprofit status.

“Our goal is to build the tiny village and to have a community center where we can involve agencies from all over the community to come in and help with everything from haircuts, to educational programs, substance abuse treatment, case management, mental health treatment, the whole gammit,” explained Lee, president of the organiztion.

While the group’s project is still in its early stages, one thing all its members agree on is the need to help those who served our country.

“They had a clear, defined purpose in the military. They knew what they were going to do. They didn’t have that out here. So helping them find a way to accomplish their goals and fit back into society is really going to benefit the community as a whole.”

The goal is to raise $1-2 million to start the transitional veteran housing project.

If you’d like to chip in, you can donate to the “Our Veterans First” account at Southwest Missouri Bank.

You can also volunteer or learn more by contacting Lee at 417-439-9424.

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