COLORADO SPRINGS – The community is rallying together to help our local veterans that need it most. The El Paso County Homeless Veterans Coalition is hosting a Stand Down where veterans will receive meals, clothing, flu shots even haircuts.They’ll also be connected with employment and housing opportunities.
Any veteran in need can stop by and News 5 spoke with one veteran who made the decision to visit the stand down last year. He says it was one that changed his life!
William or “Gunner” as he’s known is no stranger to the streets.
“I lost my job, I lost my house and I was living on the streets,” described Gunner.
Gunner dropped out of high school to join the Navy in 1985 where he got his GED and served for nearly 8 years, but when he finished it was no smooth sailing.
“I spent a year in California with 3 jobs and not making my bills,” continued Gunner.
Gunner eventually made his way to Colorado, where he worked for his father building homes, even staying at the Springs Rescue Mission for a time.
“They were kind enough to hold me a bed, so when I got back I had some place to sleep,” said Gunner.
“I was almost like what’s it worth?” added Gunner. “Then I came to the Stand Down.”
That’s when everything changed! Gunner was able to participate in the Stand Down’s Transitional Housing Initiative where he learned to save and budget money and thanks to the program was able to get a place of his own.
“It was the best decision I ever made,” said Gunner. “It means I didn’t have to rely on someone else’s kindness to have a life.”
The Stand Down is from 9 A.M. to 2 P.M. today. Organizers will also choose families to be part of this year’s Transitional Housing Initiative.
As for Gunner, he tells News 5 he was also able to get a puppy, that he’s named Havoc.
Want to help other veterans like Gunner? You can contact the El Paso County Homeless Veterans here.