Dozens of leaders from across Central Texas met in Temple Tuesday to tackle the issue of homelessness among veterans.
It’s a problem Air Force veteran Charles Fall never imagined he would face. Following the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina and several unexpected life events, the former police officer ended up on the streets.
"To be on the street and not being able to tell my wife where we were going to go, if I could keep the rain off your head tonight, if we were going to have any money to eat,” he said. “That's a really disheartening feeling."
Making sure veterans like Fall have a place to turn is what brought community agencies together under one roof Tuesday.
"We still have veterans in shelters and that's not our goal,” program coordinator Paula Wood said. “We want to get them into our transitional housing programs and into permanent homes."
The goal to end homelessness among veterans is part of a larger five plan unveiled by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs in 2009.
"It's all about education, linkage and getting the help to the veterans that need it," Wood said.
The summit focused on letting community agencies who are on the frontline know about the help available to veterans, whether it was mental health, alcohol and drug treatment. They can even provide assistance in finding housing and employment.
"We are helping veterans every day, even though there are more new ones that come in each day,” Wood said. “And we couldn't do it without the help of our community partners."
Although he's now in a permanent home, Fall understands the situation facing other homeless veterans.
"A lot of them would do something different if they knew what to do or where to go,” Fall said. “But what happens is, it's gotten to the point where a lot of them are just tired."
Officials with the Veteran’s Affairs say they hope to make the homeless summit an annual event.