Homeless vets get hot dogs
Darryl Vincent spent this Memorial Day with homeless veterans rather than his family.
He and other U.S. Vets staff members served a free hot-dog lunch to homeless vets at Ala Moana Beach Park yesterday.
To Vincent it was worth it. About 300 servings of food were dished out, and many homeless vets returned for second and third portions.
U.S. Vets, a national nonprofit organization that services veterans, has given free lunches every Memorial Day for the past five years as a way to reach out to homeless veterans and offer them services.
Many homeless veterans do not have a computer or phone, explained Vincent, so the only way to reach them is by going to where they reside, like Ala Moana Beach Park.
Vincent said U.S. Vets is a "one-stop shop" for veterans needing help. "Any veteran who need services, we can link them up with Veterans Affairs, housing, food, clothes. We can help them get a job, medical care, whatever they need," he added.
U.S. Vets operates a housing program for homeless veterans in a former Navy barracks at Barbers Point. There are about 100 beds, which are always "90 to 100 percent full," said Vincent. "We never turn anyone away — there is no waiting list," he added.
Graduates of the housing program, which includes meals and substance abuse treatment and testing, are eligible to move into independent housing also offered by U.S. Vets.
One homeless veteran, who asked not to be named, found out about U.S. Vets' residential program while getting lunch. He was excited about the prospect of getting his life back together.
Approximately one out of four homeless people in Hawaii is a veteran, Vincent said.
For more information, visit www.usvetsinc.org. Homeless veterans are encouraged to call (808) 330-7444 (Kevin) about the housing program.