Federal help on the way for Hawaii's homeless veterans

Federal help on the way for Hawaii's homeless veterans
Michael Young
Michael Young
Shannon Hayes
Shannon Hayes

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Michael Young is a civilian now. For seven years he was a soldier.

"I enjoyed the challenges. I was good at it," he said.

He survived two tours in Iraq but he couldn't dodge alcohol abuse and questions that haunt the homeless.

"Where am I going to sleep? What am I going to do? Just roaming aimlessly," he said.

There are no statistics on how many homeless veterans live on Hawaii's streets, but there are many. Young found shelter at U.S. Vets in Kalaeloa..

"We're the biggest one in terms of assisting veterans who need help, who are homeless," site director Shannon Hayes said.

The non-profit will go after some of the $3.2 billion the Department of Veterans Affairs will spend nationwide on homeless prevention among vets. The goal is to end the problem in five years.

"Our nation is trying to take a hold on caring for those individuals who have served our country." Hayes said.

The money would help expand U.S. Vets transitional housing and education programs. On average it rescues 300 veterans a year from life on the street.

Right now, 90 are going through substance abuse counseling, help with mental health issues, and job placement.

Young has found a home.

"A lot of guys with similar problems. A lot of support. They're helping me work a program where I can overcome that," he said.

Companies looking for workers find qualified hires at U.S Vets. Young is ready for that step.

"It's almost like starting all over," he said.

A lot of homeless veterans are looking for the same chance.