Remember Our Homeless Vets On Veterans Day - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

Remember Our Homeless Vets On Veterans Day

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Despite all the pomp and circumstance of Veteran's Day, many of our vets face a sad reality when returning from duty: homelessness.

There are literally hundreds of homeless vets in our area.  Many of them seek refuge at the Old Savannah City Mission.  About ten percent of the mission's guests are veterans.  But these vets weren't at Monday morning's parade, nor did they enjoy any applause.  They spent their day, much like any other, working and praying at the mission. 

"(The words) ‘veterans' and ‘homeless' should not be in the same sentence.  And yet there are a lot of veterans that are homeless.  And it just doesn't make sense as to why," said homeless Army vet Leland Lee.   

"These guys have really been a blessing to me.  And when they need volunteers, I'm always stepping in," said Duaine Sheppard, who also is a homeless Army vet.   

Lee and Sheppard join the ranks of almost 400 homeless vets in Chatham County.  They each have tried to find work, but instead find themselves here at the mission on Bull Street. 

"It's been pretty rough," Sheppard said.  "People already have their own crews and everything else and all of this.  That is something that has been weighing heavily on me." 

"I guess preference should be a good word for veterans.  You know, so we could have preference over a lot of things for what we did for our country.  But it doesn't seem to be that way," said Lee.   

"There's a lot of mental illness that our veterans are dealing with," said Reginald Lee, with the Old Savannah City Mission.  "A lot of substance abuse.  A lot of times it's just because of the horrors they've seen." 

Reginald Lee says they do what they can to honor the vets living under the mission's roof, even if it's a modest thank you. 

"One of the things that we'll do is we'll let our vets go first in the meal line.  And maybe give them a bigger piece of meat tonight," he said.   

Both of these vets are locals who were stationed in the Mid-West but have come back.  Leland Lee was born and raised in Savannah.  Duaine Sheppard is from Parris Island.

At the mission they don't refer to people as homeless. They call them friends and neighbors. 

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