HAMMOND, LOUISIANA-- In the sweet country air of a community, a local organization challenges the bitterness of a harsh reality that one out of four homeless individuals are military veterans.
"When you think about how valuable they are and the freedoms we enjoy because of what they did and then how seemingly worthless they are when they come out and they don't have a place to live. That is why we exist," says Wallace Sibley, the Executive Director. His mother, Winnie Sibley, started The Quad Area Community Action Agency in 1976, out of a passion of helping individuals. The agency covers everything from a program designed to reach the youth, to roof repair on houses. One of their programs: Quad Veterans is a jewel and has been recognized nationally for it's ability to help homeless veterans to rediscover the value in themselves.
Soldiers that return to civilian life after the military often times only have a two-hour debriefing to transition. Quad Vets found that many veterans have post traumatic stress disorder, turn to drugs or simply need help in discovering the resources that Veterans Affairs offers. Each man in their program is given two years of help and provided with communal housing, with the potential of some veterans getting to choose to live down the street from the main facility in a tranquil country two story home. The resources that Quad Vets provides are astounding and include: meals, counseling, computer access, recreation, and job search assistance.
One of the residents, Oscar Covington, worked in the culinary arts for 14 year and found himself living on the street without a job. The shelters were full and his options had run out. "If you want some help, you got to ask somebody for some help. I went to a homeless shelter and they said they couldn't take me, but they gave me this phone number and this address and told me to give them a call," says Oscar. He is now halfway through the program and a success, like ninety percent of Quad Vets' residents.
Nicholas Klusener is another resident that found himself living from place to place with relatives and friends. Since joining the program, he now is a college student in music performance with a new lease on life.
Dane Blankenship is the Program Director and says, "I road submarines and spent over two years of my life underwater. When I see these guys struggling, I understand what they are going through."
Quad Vets is Federally Funded, but the money only goes so far. They often find themselves needing to cover funding gaps, not government provided. Every year for three months, they have a fundraiser and sell raffle tickets and take donations.
To help Quad Vets in their mission, you may give here.
If you or someone you know would like to inquire about the program, the number is: 225-567-1961. The requirements for the program is that a veteran must have served at least one day of active duty and hot had a dishonorable discharge. If you do not have transportation that is not a problem. Quad Vets will come pick up stranded, homeless veterans.