HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, the number of homeless veterans decreased this year by 5.4 %. But that number isn't reflecting the most current data in Alabama, which shows a spike in homeless vets.
The Huntsville Madison County Veterans Memorial displays rules for military members. One of them reads, "Never leave a fallen comrade," but what about when they return home and face a different fight? That's where members of the Centurion Witness Ministries step in.
"Focuses on veterans that are looking to take their life, post-traumatic stress, combat-related stress, and one of the things that we realize is a key contributor to that is you lose hope, And if you don't have a home, that's tough to remain hopeful," CFO Keith Poole said.
Last week he delivered warm clothes to vets staying at the Salvation Army in Huntsville. It was part of his effort to provide hope at a time he says is very needed.
"This past year there was a 26% increase in homeless veterans in the state of Alabama," Poole said.
According to HUD's 2018 report to Congress, Alabama is among the states that saw the biggest increase in homeless veterans between 2017 and 2018.
"What's the contributing factor, that I don't know. I just know that's unacceptable so we've got a lot of work to do," he said.
HUD's report shows that there were 2,570 homeless individuals in Alabama this year, 2018. 339 of them were veterans.
"Some guys, they don't want help, and it's tough to help somebody who doesn't want help. But there are a lot of them that do. So, how do you help them, how do you get out there and bring that help to them," he said.
For members of Centurian Witness Ministries, the answer to that question is to continue their mission of spreading hope and offering support to homeless veterans.
HUD's report shows that overall homelessness decreased in Alabama in 2018.