Tag: Homeless Veterans

Tony Jones, Homeless Veteran in Nation’s Capital, Gets New Apartment for The Holidays

Tony Jones in his new apartment (photo via abcnews.go.com)
Tony Jones in his new apartment (photo via abcnews.go.com)

After almost ten years of living in a tent in the woods of Southeast Washington DC, Army veteran Tony Jones is finally getting his own home.

“I can’t even express in words how I feel right now. I just know I feel, I feel great,” Jones said. “I feel good. I feel like James Brown, I feel good! AOWWW!”

Through the help of Miriam’s Kitchen, Jones obtained a Veterans Administration voucher to cover his renting fees. Miriam’s Kitchen is a non-profit in DC mandated to end homelessness in the area by providing housing and food to the area’s less fortunate. The organization claims to have a 92 percent success rate in keeping people off the street.

No one in Jones’ family knew he was homeless, despite the fact that he still kept in touch with them and occasionally visited his mother. He said that as a grown man, he didn’t want sympathy from others.

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Homeless Veterans Get Second Chance To Rebuild Their Lives Through Technology

homeless veterans get second chance through technology
U.S. Veterans Buddy Holston and Darionne Lee to learn coding via Tech Talent South in Atlanta

Two U.S. veterans who have struggled with homelessness are being given a second chance to rebuild their lives thanks to a community partnership that empowers the men to master advanced coding and computer programming skills.

The grassroots initiative makes it possible for the ex-servicemen to complete an 8-week intensive, full-time, coding course at Tech Talent South’s offices in metropolitan Atlanta, where they will learn everything from HTML/CSS to Ruby on Rails.

“We have seen coding change lives, and we are excited to extend that opportunity to our veterans who truly need it,” says Richard Simms, co-founder of Tech Talent South (TTS), a coding boot camp dedicated to fostering talent in technology throughout the Southeast. “We hope to give them a valuable skill set that helps them get back on their feet.”

The initiative, a partnership between Tech Talent South, Back on My Feet, Homegrown, Veterans Empowerment Organization, Accenture, and UrbanGeekz, will serve as a lifeline for both men who have faced tough times since leaving the armed forces. The nonprofit organization Back on My Feet received a grant from Accenture to put the homeless vets through the TTS course.

Originally from Chicago, Buddy Holston, 58, joined the armed forces in 1980 and served for a decade. He says he is thrilled by the chance to gain the skills needed to start a career in technology.

“I’m really excited about this,” says Holston. “I hope to become proficient in coding and be able to make practical use of those skills. After Tech Talent South, I hope to obtain employment and also share what I learn with others, particularly those in underserved communities.”

In fact, according to US News, the Labor Department considers web development to be one of the fastest-growing careers this decade, and it predicts employment will swell by about 20 percent by 2022. Given that demand, the training gives the men an opening to get back on track and boost their job prospects.

Holston says he has always had an interest in technology. While living at the Veterans Empowerment Organization, he even began trying to build his own Google App.

“I started tinkering with my first bike. I took it apart just to put it back together. It’s the same with toy trains and tape recorders. Throughout high school and college, I liked engineering, math, and science. I always wanted to learn more.”

Atlanta native Darionne Lee, 29, received training from Job Corps before joining the armed forces in 2009. He served for 3 years. He has also worked as a Machine and Forklift Operator and dabbled in AutoCAD Programming.

“I hope to break into the tech field,” says Lee. “I have always been interested in technology.  When I was in the service, I was exposed to so many different technologies and types of programs. I definitely want to learn more.”

To read the rest of this article, go to: UrbanGeekz.com

 

Formerly Homeless Veteran Alicia Watkins Now a Student at Harvard University

U.S. Veteran Alicia WatkinsAlicia Watkins is a retired Air Force staff sergeant who proudly served in Iraq and Afghanistan. She risked her life for the freedom of others, survived the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon, and watched her colleagues die. But it wasn’t any of her combat experiences that broke Watkins’ spirit; it was the fact that she retired from the military and found herself homeless.

In 2010, Watkins’ allowed “The Oprah Winfrey Show” to document her life as a homeless veteran. Her “kitchen” was a cardboard box of snacks and microwavable meals. Her bed was a car that she rented for $10 a day. Her restrooms were the toilets at various airport hotels.

Watch a clip from Watkins’ eye-opening video diary.

The 10-year veteran was struggling, but even during her low points, she believed that others were struggling more. At one point, Watkins did have housing, but she gave up her room to a homeless mother and her three kids.

“It might have been different had I not seen the children and the babies. So, I decided to be on the street and put them in the room,” Watkins told Oprah five years ago. “Why wouldn’t I?”

Since that emotional interview, a lot has changed for Watkins, who recently sent an update to “Oprah: Where Are They Now?” In the above video, she shares a surprising truth: Until her ‘Oprah Show’ interview aired, Watkins’ friends and family had no idea she was homeless.

“I had… alienated myself from everyone,” she admits now. “They really were shocked when they found out, and they were also just hurt by the fact that I was suffering.”

After the show, Watkins moved in with a family friend. Though she no longer lives in a car, Watkins says that her many health issues have prevented her from being able to work.

“I have traumatic brain injury, I have post-traumatic stress disorder, I have a spinal cord injury,” she says. “It’s a hard road. I would love to be able to work today. I have offers, I have people that are willing to help me, but they all have to take a backseat to my health. As much as I want to work, I have to acknowledge that I am a casualty of war.”

With a secure roof over her head, Watkins decided to focus on her education and began applying to colleges.

“I wanted to be able to care for wounded warriors, and so I decided to apply to Harvard University,” she says. “In 2012, I was accepted. My college expenses are paid by the G.I. Bill.”

Watkins’ says that her personal life has really turned around as well.

“I recently got engaged, on my birthday of all days,” she says, smiling. “It is amazing.”

“Oprah: Where Are They Now?” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on OWN.

article via huffingtonpost.com

In a U.S. First, New Orleans Finds Homes for All its Homeless Veterans

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US Navy veteran Ray Charles Griggs receives keys to his new home in New Orleans, December, 2014. New Orleans became the first US city to end veteran homelessness on Jan. 2 after housing 227 people in less than six months. (Photo Courtesy of UNITY of Greater New Orleans)

Most people celebrate the New Year by making resolutions. The city of New Orleans rang in 2015 by keeping one.

At 6 p.m. on Jan. 2, social workers in New Orleans moved the city’s last known homeless veteran into his new apartment – becoming the first US city to effectively eliminate veteran homelessness.

Homelessness advocates around the country are hailing New Orleans as a model for cities around the country looking to end homelessness, not just for veterans, but for all people needing a permanent home.

“The solutions that work for veterans are the solutions that work for all people,” says Laura Zeilinger, executive director of the US Interagency Council on Homelessness. “The problem is absolutely solvable when we invest in the practices that we know work.”

This time last year, nearly 50,000 US veterans had no home to call their own, according to an annual count. On Independence Day, first lady Michelle Obama launched the Mayor’s Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness. Since that time, more than 300 mayors, six governors, and 71 other local officials have joined the pledge to house every veteran by the end of 2015.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu took that pledge one step further, promising to meet the goal by the end of 2014.

“We owe our Veterans our eternal gratitude for their service and sacrifice to this nation, and making sure they have a place to call home is a small but powerful way we can show our appreciation,” Mayor Landrieu said in a statement Wednesday, announcing that New Orleans had housed all known veterans in the Crescent City.

In total, the city has placed 227 veterans in housing since the start of 2014.

Other cities have made huge strides in this area as well. Both Phoenix and Salt Lake City have managed to house all chronically homeless veterans, who have experienced long-term homelessness. The city of Binghamton, N.Y., successfully housed its 21 homeless veterans in November 2014. However, New Orleans is the first major city to be able to meet the needs of all homeless veterans, according to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

“There’s been a lot of skepticism as to whether this is a problem that we can actually solve and I think that [New Orleans’ progress] is a proof point for us as a nation that this is something that can actually be done,” says Ann Oliva, HUD’s deputy assistant secretary for special needs.

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T.I. to Launch New ‘Give Like a King’ Campaign to Support Homeless Veterans

Recording Artist/Host T.I. at AKOO's 2nd Annual 'A King Of Oneself Brunch' Hosted By T.I. at Ocean Prime on September 30, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for AKOO Clothing)

Recording Artist/Host T.I. at AKOO’s 2nd Annual ‘A King Of Oneself Brunch’ Hosted By T.I. at Ocean Prime on September 30, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for AKOO Clothing)

Rapper T.I. will announce the launch of his global “Give Like a King” campaign this Friday.  The rapper, actor and reality TV star is returning to his Bankhead neighborhood in Georgia to unveil his new campaign.

According to BCG, he is joining efforts with Veterans Empowerment Organization of Georgia (VEO) to help support homeless veterans.  VEO is an organization that brings food, shelter, and services to veterans in need.

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