City makes dent in veteran homelessness, but scores still need h - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

City makes dent in veteran homelessness, but scores still need help

In January, Mayor Kirk Caldwell accepted President Obama's challenge to end veteran homelessness by the end of the year.

So far, 227 have been placed in permanent housing. Another 53 still need help.

Now, with the end of the year quickly approaching, outreach specialists are pulling out all the stops, including using memories of the military to get through to wary vets.

During the Vietnam War, soldiers returning from combat were given a safe retreat or "stand down" to take care of themselves. On Tuesday, the concept carried over to a "stand down" event for veterans in Kalaeloa aimed at giving those who are struggling an opportunity to refocus.

"Whatever connection I can make here is good for me," said Michael Hansen, who struggled with mental health issues after getting out of the U.S. Marine Corps and ended up losing his job. 

Tuesday, he sat in on the "stand down" event in an effort to get out of the shelter where's he's living and into a place of his own.

Calvin Nunies, 62, was sitting where Hansen was a year ago.

Now, he's got an apartment and credits much of his success to a "stand down" meeting he attended. It was there he was connected with counselors for his post-traumatic stress disorder. Some 40 service providers were on hand Tuesday to help vets in similar situations.

Nunies said he spent 12 years in the Army. The hardest part about getting off the streets was asking for help, he said.

After attending the "stand down" event, Hansen said he was feeling positive and hoped to be in a new place very soon.

"Maybe I'll put up my own Christmas tree," he said.

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