Wednesday, February 6, 2013--6p.m.
MADISON--A group looking to help out homeless veterans is expanding into the Madison area today. They're forming the Madison Homeless Veterans Initiative, based on a similarly titled effort in Milwaukee.
Today they're handing out coats, gloves, blankets, food and toiletries--among other donated items--to homeless Madison veterans.
One of the group's leaders says they're trying to reach homeless vets, who sometimes have special needs and may fall through the cracks of the other support services offered.
He says vets can struggle with things like PTSD, which regular homeless services may not be equipped to deal with.
We spoke with a former homeless vet who says the Milwaukee program helped him get back on his feet, as well as with one of the Madison leaders, who says they're trying to bridge the gap for area homeless vets. "He gave me a hand up and not a hand out and I don't know really where I would be had he not come around and you know, done that," said Greg Carter a formerly homeless veteran. "So now that's what I do, I go out and I try and find the homeless people. We focus on veterans but we'll give to anybody." "The normal homeless groups don't understand PTSD, don't understand the military service," said David Boetcher, a Madison veteran. "But then the VA quite often stays within the VA Hospital and if you don't qualify for VA benefits or you aren't there with them there's no outreach, so we provide that bridge."
We're told the group is looking to mirror some of the programs they've started in the Milwaukee area.
They say that they know of about 100 homeless vets in the Madison area--but aren't sure what the numbers are for Dane County.