DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – North Texas military veterans who may be down on their luck have a new helpline. It’s the Veterans Resource Center, just south of the VA Hospital in Dallas’ East Oak Cliff area.
“We want to be a one stop shopping center for veterans, whatever their needs are,” says Ken Watterson.
For him and other veterans, it’s the fulfillment of a dream. A single place for veterans to apply for any kind of help. The VA, he says, is limited to offering health care.
“But they don’t take care of your needs such as filing for a claim, job assistance, getting into housing,” according to Watterson, “You need to have somebody help you walk you through that system.”
Tuesday, at an un-advertised “soft” opening during 9-11 observances, CBS 11 News talked to Delbert Ford, an Army veteran, about the center.
“I’m homeless right now as a veteran and I can sit and talk about all the stuff we go through,” he said.
On Thursday, Willie Sesley got word and came looking for help. He’s living with relative and has no car, but he’d like to find work. “And I said, maybe this is my opportunity to get a job; I’m a vet, so you know they say they help vets, so I came on over, you know? Hoping they could help me find something.” Sesley says he’ll do any kind of work, even part time. “Because once I get on my feet I can survive, I just need that little, you know, get my foot in the door somewhere.”
The center is gearing up to teach vets how to use computers and offer them a place to surf the web for work. It will offer showers and places to do laundry. It also lets them to make a video explaining who they are and what they did in the service; a copy goes to the Library of Congress as a permanent record.
The center is located in an old National Guard Armory that was once scheduled to be torn down. But its walls, its paint, its atmosphere, even its smell, according to Watterson, is actually a comfort to military veterans. Currently, it offers counseling and re-integration services, including representatives from the Texas Workforce Commission, the Texas Veterans Commission, the Vietnam Veterans of America, AMVETS, and the Homeless Veterans Services of Dallas.
As Watterson tells us, “Most of our veterans go into the military right out of high school. They’ve never had a real job. And they come out of the military, they have no resume to fill out.”
By the first of next year it hopes to add a daytime resource center for the homeless, including a separate facility for female veterans with children.
Watterson says the new generation of homeless veteran is different from those who served in the ‘60s and ‘70s. “The new generation has two things; they have a cell phone and a car. They sleep in their car, they move around. So that’s what’s difficult trying to reach them, living in their car.”
The Veterans Resource Center is located at 4900 South Lancaster Road in Dallas and is available via Dart Rail. The telephone number is 214.372.8822. More information is available on the web at http://www.HVSD.org Not all services are available every day yet, so it would be wise to call ahead and make an appointment, but drop-ins are welcome.
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