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Helping Homeless Veterans

November 8, 2012, 6:03 PM by Don Jorgensen

Helping Homeless Veterans

Today's military veterans are considered heroes, fighting in a war and making unbelievable sacrifices for our freedoms. But sadly more and more of those heroes get a new label when they return home; homeless.

But a first of its kind program in Sioux Falls is changing that.

Brian Eggers spent several years in the Army's 82nd Airborne as a paratrooper, but he never thought he would ever land here.

"This is truly an amazing place, it's been a Godsend and a true blessing," Eggers said.

Eggers is talking about this homeless shelter in Sioux Falls for veterans.  He's one of dozens of homeless veterans in the area who have taken advantage of this new program that's made possible through a partnership with Volunteers of America, the VA and others.

"Don't let your pride get in the way of reaching out to those resources, I did that for many years, I ended up staying in my car at times," Eggers said.

The average stay is about 50 days. Eggers has been here a few weeks, but will be leaving soon once he's able to afford his own place.

"They are our nation's heroes. They have earned everything we can give to them, in many cases their homelessness is a direct result of something they have experienced in their military service," Pat Kelly of the Veterans Administration said.

"On a scale of one to ten, I'd say a place like this is a ten," Air Force veteran Marie Ahrens said.

Ahrens was homeless, but now she's one of the success stories. She says the Berakhah House provided her the resources and a safe environment until she found work and a place to stay.

"A lot of us are too proud to say I need help to get it, a lot turn to alcohol and drugs, I myself have been down that road," Ahrens said.

Now she's working with the VOA and its outreach program helping other homeless veterans turn their lives around.

"I'm kind of paying it forward, helping the veterans who are currently in my situation get back on their feet," Ahrens said.

Since it's inception in 2010, the Berakhah House has served 46 veterans, but organizers would like to help more.

Click here for more information on the program.

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