KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Haircuts, hot meals, warm clothes – some of the comforts many of us take for granted were gifts to homeless and low-income veterans in Kalamazoo Friday.
“One of the items, is a pair of boots,” said homeless veteran Wyatt Anderson. “Thank God today, I have brand new boots. They’re awesome. They’re awesome.”
He was one of the recipients during the annual Kalamazoo Veterans Stand Down event at The Salvation Army at 1700 S. Burdick St.
For some veterans, the war starts after returning home.
“Peer support is instrumental in helping me actually get connected again,” said Johnny Lang, a veteran who now volunteers to help fellow veterans. “If it wasn’t for that help, I’d be out there, homeless. I’d be out there lost today with mental illness.”
Sometimes the thought counts just as much as the donation.
“It’s nice of them to think of the vets here, because they didn’t use to do that back in the day,” said veteran Jeff Smith. “It was like we were forgotten.”
Friday they were remembered by volunteers like Yvonne Trevino.
“I hope everyone that comes in that needs a haircut can sit down and get one,” she said.
“My main thing is to say, ‘Hey, you’ve earned these benefits. Let’s come out of the rain here. Come in, let us help you. Let us not do the work for you but let us show you a plan and lead you to getting your life back in order,’” Lang said.
“I have a coat,” said Anderson. “I have the boots. I have long underwear in the wintertime. I have a pair of gloves. There’s no way I could buy this stuff.”
For these veterans, this tribute keeps them moving forward for another year.