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Saturday, September 20, 2014
Eight homeless vets find respite in W.H.
By Rossana Weitekamp
Rossana Weitekamp
Vets in the kitchen of the Veterans Residence on Woodfield Road in West Hempstead

Like any other home on Woodfield Road in West Hempstead, the colonial sits quietly in its surroundings. For many people, it’s just another house on the street that leads to the train station or the supermarkets nearby.

But 721 Woodfield is more than just a home. It is a cooperative partnership of several government agencies and charitable organizations that provide eight honorably discharged, homeless veterans a place to live until they get back on their feet.

The agencies, which include the U.S. Veterans Administration, the Nassau County Veterans Service Agency, the United Veteran Beacon House and the Family and Children’s Association, offer the residents a variety of services, including counseling and job placement assistance. The house has hosted 15 veterans in its 12-year existence.

Each man has his own bedroom and all share the kitchen, living room and other common areas. They also share the rent, paying roughly $600 per month each, which includes heat and utilities. Six of the men, however, are unemployed, and depend on their military pensions for the rent money and to pay for food, clothing and daily necessities. And all eight have medical issues, many of which require regular visits to the V.A. Medical Center in Northport.

Kevin B., 60, a Vietnam veteran, has problems with his legs, and recently had a knee replaced. Bill K, 71, who was stationed in Korea during the Vietnam War, has diabetes, which leaves him with so much pain in his feet that he cannot walk without a walker. James B. still has problems with his surgically repaired back.

Unfortunately, getting to the V.A. center in Northport is often a problem. “The Nassau County Veterans Service Agency has a program that uses volunteers for its vet transportation program, and we are very appreciative of those that provide the service,” said Richard Bell, a business affairs consultant for the FCA, “but sometimes the ride doesn’t work out, for whatever reason.” The vet then has no choice but to reschedule his appointment, and often waits weeks or months before the doctor’s next available appointment. “Nassau County needs to have paid drivers so that they are dependable,” Bell added. “We’ve told them many times.”

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