August 01, 2016 10:26 PM
If you met Doran Hocker today, you'd probably be shocked to learn what he's overcome: about three decades of homelessness.
"It's a lot of fear, anger, hopelessness, and you've got to navigate your way through that," he says now.
Hocker served three years in the Air Force, including a deployment to Korea during the Vietnam War, but his biggest battle—as is the case for so many vets—didn't start until he came back home.
"It's hard to reintegrate into civilian society, as a matter of fact, some people never do that successfully," Hocker said.
Newly-released numbers show the country is making major progress. According to the federal government, there's been a 47 percent decrease in veteran homelessness nationally since 2010. Even better, the number sits at 57 percent over the same time period in Minnesota.
Still, there are those who think the numbers should be even better.
At Twin Cities Stand Down for Veterans 2016, which takes place at Boy Scouts Base Camp at Fort Snelling on Tuesday and Wednesday, homeless vets will be connected with both resources and services to help them get back on their feet.
"Here a veteran can show up, can get connected immediately with a range of benefits and services that they've earned and walk out the door with a clear path to get them into housing," explained Special Advisor on Ending Homelessness for the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs Eric Grumdahl. "It is the very least that we can do to keep our promises to those veterans, to make sure that they have a warm place to stay every night."
Added Minneapolis U.S. Housing and Urban Development Field Office Director Michele Smith, "It's wrong to have people who have worn a uniform for this country to be without a home."
For many, like Hocker, the outreach works. In fact, he's come such a long way he went from no house to the White House, where he was honored by Michelle Obama in 2014.
"We've got to reach out to every veteran from Doran's generation and get them under a roof right this minute," the First Lady said at the time.
Now Hocker is giving back to his country yet again, helping those who've served and run into problems back home. People, he says, who are just like him.
"Never leave a veteran on the battle field," he said. "And when they come back here, it's the same thing."
Updated: August 01, 2016 10:26 PM
Created: August 01, 2016 07:35 PM
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