La Crosse Collaborative finds apartment for homeless vet
La Crosse, WI (WXOW) -
One La Crosse veteran moved into an apartment of his own in early September after battling through tough times.
The recently new initiative, the La Crosse Collaborative to End Homelessness set a goal to end veteran homelessness by December. So far, they've found housing for 6 out of their total goal of 12 and they said a 7th individual will move in by November 1.
Scott Johnston served as a medic in the Air Force during the early 80s and after being honorable discharged he moved back to the Midwest, receiving two Associate's degrees in nursing and applied science.
He said after losing a job and not being able to pay the bills, Johnston felt defeated and turned to his sister and her husband for support.
"It just came time, they said enough's enough. Rather than pleading and asking please continue to help I just said okay and I'll take care of myself," said Johnston.
With help from the La Crosse Collaborative to End Homelessness, Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs, Tomah VA, and The Veterans Assistance Foundation's Support Services for Veteran Families or SSVF provided Johnston with snow pants, dishes, toiletries, and bedding (just to name a few items).
"I even got a pair of real nice Sorel winter boats, you know with the liners instead of tennis shoes. I got a few clothes from them, not that I needed any, but what I needed I needed and they've helped me with that," said Johnston.
Gerald Sieren, a VORP Specialist or Veteran's Outreach Recovery Program Specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Veteran's Affairs is Johnston's Case Manager and said they met each other in May and that's when the process began.
"I've actually been where they were. I was a homeless vet at one time. So it's like giving back. They helped me get out of my bad place so I want to help the other vets," said Sieren.
"We as humans need companionship and sometimes we need help and need to be humble enough to ask for help. You know and it's a very humbling experience, but I'd rather be humble than humiliated," stressed Johnston.
The initiative hopes their efforts inspire other homeless programs, not just for veterans. And as for Johnston, he said he's optimistic about his future.