U.S. Army veteran hopes to find permanent home in Tyler
Sgt. Melvin Barker found help at the Stand Down Tyler resource fair after struggling with homelessness for the past 18 months.
TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Sergeant Melvin Barker knew he wanted to serve in the U.S. Army from the age of six. He served for seven years and was deployed to Europe after the end of the Vietnam War. Right now, he is homeless.
“At first, I got into the ‘pity pot.’ I was feeling sorry for myself, and then I saw that, you know, nobody out here on the streets care(s) about pity, you know. It’s dog eat dog,” Barker says.
He says things began to go spiral downwards after he separated from his wife over a year ago, and since then, he has been surviving in Tyler without a home.
“I had to learn, draw from my military experiences and learn to communicate with the people, and some of them, you just ain’t communicating with – there’s no communicating period. But then, you have to learn how to survive,” he says. “I had to learn how to get part-time jobs, you know, and work. I had to learn where to go for shelter. There was places under the bridges that I had to stay sometimes, and you don’t sleep under the bridge – you rest, but you better not close your eyes. I had to learn that the hard way when my property began to become missing.”
Barker came to CampV for the first time over a year ago. CampV is a non-profit dedicated to providing resources to veterans and active duty members in need. Today, he showed up in his car hours before the Stand Down Tyler event even started.
“I’m so happy that they know how to ascertain resources to help the veterans, especially the Texas veterans.”
Barker is currently unemployed.
“They think of us as the person standing on the corner with a cardboard sign in their hands, you know. I’m not trying to be derogatory about that, but this is the way the employers look at us, and come on now, everybody deserves a break, a second chance,” he says.
He is in the process of paying an application fee and putting down a deposit for an apartment in Tyler – thanks to financial help from East Texas Veterans Resource Center that had representatives at the Stand Down.
“Once I get my keys in my hand for my apartment, I’m just going to go in, take a shower, shave, and just lay down in the middle of the floor for the next week! No, the next thing is to also try to find some way to give back,” he adds.
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