Progress in effort to end veteran homelessness in western Massachusetts

AGWAM, Mass. (WWLP) – President Barack Obama did not meet his pledged goal to end veteran homelessness. The Secretary of the Veterans Administration said veterans homelessness should end “within a couple of years.”

Some of the men and women who’ve served our country still sleep on the streets. Many of the men and women who serve our country see unspeakable things during a time of war. Many Vietnam War veterans were treated poorly when they arrived home. It can be difficult to return to life back in the states.

“If you are out in the field at all it’s hard to come back into society with the people,” explained Vietnam War veteran Jerry Ducharme. Ducharme told 22News he wants to see more housing. “I think the state or somebody should take over all of these vacant apartments that are going to heck.”

And that’s exactly whats happening in Agawam. A 51 room former state police training facility on South Westfield Street will become a housing community with on site services.

“We are going to make sure we do everything possible to keep every veteran in these units housed safe and secure,” said John Crane, the Director of Case Management for Soldier On.

Soldier On CEO John Downing led 22News on a tour of the still under construction facility slated to open in June. “This building that’s been here 70 or 80 years that has never paid taxes to Agawam is going to pay taxes because the veterans own it. This gives veterans real dignity,” said Downing.

Downing estimated about 250 still homeless veterans in western Massachusetts.

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