Group Raises Awareness For Homeless Veterans - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Group Raises Awareness For Homeless Veterans

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KALISPELL - Veterans' access to medical care has been in the news a lot lately, but many vets have to go without even the basics, like a roof over their heads.

A Flathead group is trying to change that, but they haven't even reached half of what they need.

This is the third year for the VA 2 kilometer walk, run, and roll course. This is army veteran Sherman Hall's first year helping.

"You can't just thank one person for all the help," said Hall.

Hall is one of 30 vets that have gotten help from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development's Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program.

"I myself was in a homeless shelter down the street, the Samaritan House, for 13 months," said Hall.

HUD-VASH gives vouchers to those who have served our country. That means they can go out and rent a place anywhere in the community as long as it meets the group's safety standards.

HUD-VASH case manager Karen Blackbird has to make just 30 vouchers work for Flathead, Lincoln, Sanders, and Lake counties. She says there are about 40 vets waiting to get a voucher, but she's held back without enough money. The dollars, and in turn the number of vouchers she gets depends on the results of the annual homeless survey that the United Way helps administer. That happens in January, when few are outside waiting to be counted.

That's not the case now.

"Many veterans come based on a referral from another veteran that says 'wow, this is such a great place to live, and the people are so nice,' but that increases our need as well," explained Blackbird.

Wednesday, they took donations to stock places like the Samaritan House and the veterans food pantry, things that Hall has and still does need.

"Veterans is more like a brotherhood and all vets, most of the vets, stick together and help each other out," said Hall.

This year they got about 40 pounds of food and toiletries, and it's all going to the Northwest Veterans Food Pantry.

More than 25,000 people at 170 VA facilities took part in a VA 2 kilometer last year. Cash donations totaled more than $300,000.

If you missed the 2 kilometer course in Kalispell, you can still drop off donations at the Veterans Administration Clinic on Three Mile Drive.

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