Winston-Salem veteran: Homeless to hopeful

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Some cities in the Piedmont have pledged to eliminate veteran homelessness, and one program is doing its part in Winston-Salem.

Veterans Helping Veterans Heal (VHVH) is home to two dozen men at a time for up to two years. The veterans who live there were diagnosed with substance abuse or mental health issues and are ready for a new start.

“We believe our veterans have assets, talents and abilities to contribute and transition well back into the community,” explained Brian Hahne, VHVH director of operations.

Part of their mission is giving homeless veterans a permanent address to call home and connecting them with case management services.

"It's safe, it's secure, it's stable," Hahne said. "They've come from a culture of survival- where am I going to lay my head tonight, where am I going to find my next meal? To a culture of sustainability."

Mark McCray says he’s living proof the program is working. He lost his job in 2009 and subsequently lost his house, too. McCray said he was living in his car when he came home to family in Winston-Salem. He had three bags of belongings to his name.

“The family didn't work out as far as room and board. I had trouble getting a job because of the economy, so I was really virtually homeless for pretty much six years. I was going in between places I could stay, living in my car.”

Finally, a V.A. hospital worker suggested McCray go to VHVH. He still remembers walking in and meeting the program director.

“When I came in, he could tell I was shell-shocked. He goes 'Don't worry about nothing. You've got a roof over your head for two years. We have case management, we'll help you get into a job when the time is right, if you need that. And we have three meals a day. So don't worry about anything.' I was immediately relieved."

Now, Mark is preparing to move into his own apartment and has a job opportunity lined up.

More information about VHVH: http://vhvh.org/

Find other assistance for veterans: http://www.va.gov/

Alamance County Veteran Services: http://www.alamance-nc.com/veterans/

Rockingham County Veteran Services: http://www.co.rockingham.nc.us/pView.aspx?id=14849&catid=408

Guilford County Veteran Services: http://www.myguilford.com/veterans-services/

Randolph County Veteran Services: http://www.co.randolph.nc.us/veteran.htm

V.A. in Winston-Salem http://www.benefits.va.gov/winstonsalem/