Local groups get together to help homeless veterans

Local groups get together to help homeless veterans
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Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri hosted an event at Memorial Hall in Joplin aimed at helping homeless veterans.

Mark and Amy Compton have spent significant portions of their lives living on the streets. Mark, a Vietnam veteran, was homeless even in his younger years. Mark says “They had the war going on and I signed up, I was 17, I was on the streets down there in Florida, to get off the streets I enlisted in the Air Force.”

They came to Joplin’s Memorial Hall for the first ever homeless veteran connection event, started by Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri. Catholic Charities partnered with many local agencies like the VFW and Compass Quest to help spread awareness of resources for veterans. Paula Hedrick with Catholic Charities says “There are those who aren’t aware that we provide those additional services, especially for our veterans, so it is kind of a nice incentive to extend that information and that education to them that, yes, this is another resource for you.”

And it’s thanks to those organizations, people like Mark and Amy, have a place to call home. Mark says “We had the help of a lot of people, the VFW here in Joplin, Post 534, a special thanks to them.”

Mark himself, waited twenty years to apply for benefits, partly because he had been in prison, despite that, he still got a warm welcome at the VA. “He stood up and shook my hand and said, ‘welcome home’…and that’s it.”

But he knows without help… “Without stuff like this, we wouldn’t have anything right now, we’d still be sleeping in the woods every night.”

And he has a message for other homeless veterans, and for the homeless population in general. “Being homeless is just a situation, it doesn’t have to be your lifestyle or anything, some people I see choose it, I didn’t choose it, I was thrown into it, and you can come up out of it, I just had to go in there and ask for help.”

Through it all, Mark and Amy say it’s their love that kept them strong.

Today’s event helped 34 people including 12 veterans.

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