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People Reaching Out To Help Homeless Veterans

November 11, 2011, 4:56 PM by Kelly Bartnick

People Reaching Out To Help Homeless Veterans
SIOUX FALLS, SD - The need is great, and apparently, so is the help.

The Veterans Outreach Center is there daily to help homeless veterans with basic necessities. But as more and more people are hearing about its mission, some are actually offering the center extra help.

Flags line the streets as a reminder to honor armed service vets. But inside the Volunteers of America Veterans Outreach Center, every day is Veterans Day.

"We have a counselor here. We can do employment stuff. We can get em hooked up with services at the VA," Chris Nelson said.

And since Nelson opened the help center's doors this month, counselors who are used to finding help are now finding themselves in the opposite role as more and more people step forward to offer their own help.

"'What can I do for your program? What do you need? Just tell me what you want and I'll try and get it for you,'" Nelson said.

Sometimes it's in the form of offering veterans jobs, or maybe even just some extra resources. But the increased offers are not outpacing the footsteps of needy veterans here. The VA estimates 300 homeless vets live in Sioux Falls alone.

"We've just kind of scratched the surface of what the need is, I think," Nelson said.

Nelson says for now, offering internet, counseling, a hot shower and even a place to wash clothes fills some basic needs. The facility is staffed mostly by veterans themselves. He hopes someday the facility and its workers will be able to do much more.

"We want them to open up and feel more trustful so they don't feel reluctant to ask what's available," Nelson said.

The center is open six days a week, Monday through Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. That includes federal holidays, like Veterans Day.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
In a previous version of this story, the hours of operation were incorrect.

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