NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - A precise count of homelessness is always difficult, but The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates that over 47,000 veterans are homeless on any given night.
Several efforts are underway from Tyler to Nacogdoches, even Houston, to see that the homeless veterans in East Texas will always have an address and a roof over their head if they want it.
It took Debra Christian's concern about homeless veterans to develop the Tyler Christian Restoration Community Center. Instead of living under bridges, homeless veterans live in restored homes.
The Young Republicans at Stephen F. Austin State University is helping meet a special need.
"They're trying to raise $15,000 to install an indoor fire sprinkler system and the State of Texas will not allow these homeless veterans to move into the facility until the indoor fire sprinkler is installed," said George Lane, the president of the SFA Young Republicans.
On March 6, at the Baker Patillo Student Center at SFA a Homeless Veteran's Awareness Banquet will raise money for the cause.
However, those who care about veterans want something closer than Tyler for the veterans in the Lufkin and Nacogdoches region. The American Legion plans to pay cash for a Nacogdoches home me and eventually open up a veteran's crisis center.
"Trying to get some of these homeless veterans off the street and get 'em into a job, training, sober up, whatever their problem is, work on it," said Herman Gibson, the America Legion Post commander.
Members are now seeking help from the Texas Veterans Commission.
"They get a certain amount of money from the Texas Lottery to the Texas Veterans Commission and then they allocate it out for veteran's organizations," Gibson said.
The director of the Houston VA Medical Center says federal funding was used to combat homelessness.
"We have effectively ended homelessness in the Houston area," said Adam Walmus, the director of the Michael Debakey VA Medical Center.
That is if a veteran wants a home.
"A lot of them don't want to be found because they haven't hit bottom yet," Gibson said. When they crash and burn, they'll step forward."
When they do, there will be spot for them in Tyler and Houston … and someday, in Nacogdoches.
Tickets are still available for the Homeless Veterans Awareness Banquet with Congressman Louie Gohmert as the keynote speaker. The College Republicans at SFA can be contacted through the organization's Facebook page.
Also the American Legion in Nacogdoches is selling raffle tickets and barbecue at locations around town to fund their new purchase.