How MACV is helping veterans over 55 find homes
MINNEAPOLIS — This holiday season, a Minnesota organization is helping a growing number of Veterans who need housing later in life.
“My undergrad degree is in applied psychology with chemical dependency certification,” Neal said.
He then completed a master’s in counseling psychology and helped Veterans with chemical dependency.
“I never expected this. This came out of nowhere. It’s like somebody threw me a curveball and I couldn’t hit it,” he said.
Neal said his life took a terrible turn. He did not feel himself. He lost focus, he resigned from his job at a St. Paul clinic and then his wife of 40 years filed for divorce.
In the blink of an eye, Neal was homeless and sleeping in his car.
“At first it was like I’m worried about where am I going to park. So I went and I parked at the VA medical center, until the cops said, ‘No, you can’t loiter here,’ and kicked me out. So then I parked on the street outside the medical center,” he said.
It was doctors at the VA who helped Neal understand what he was going through.
“He said, ‘I think that it’s bipolar disorder,’ and he gave me the basic medication that they give people for it, is lithium. Three days later all that stuff went away,” Neal said.
While at the VA, he learned about the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans.
“When I went and called them and started talking to them about it I found that they are legitimate. They are on a mission,” Neal said.
MACV’s mission: To get Neal the care he needed and a home for the holidays.
“Since September of last year they’ve kept me out of my car,” he said. “I have a place to stay and it’s because of MACV.”
Sixty-three percent of veterans helped by MACV last year had some kind of mental or physical scars after serving their country.
Army Veteran Timothy Reffner needed assistance after moving to Minnesota to help his daughter.
“Basically I had nowhere to go and I didn’t want to leave my daughter, so I slept on the street,” Reffner said.
It’s an experience Reffner says still haunts him today.
“I’ve seen some crazy, crazy stuff out there. People being drunk and high or whatever they were,” he said.
It was a fellow Veteran who told him about MACV and the help they could provide.
“The same day I got a hold of MACV and I got on the light rail and went to them, they told me where to go, that very same day she put me up in the Snelling Motel and that was nice,” Reffner said.
From hotel to housing, this veteran is happy to be home for the holidays, thanks to MACV.
You can support MACV’s mission right now. Just a $40 donation will help veterans like Neal and Reffner with housing for a day. Just text MACV to 44321 or give online at wcco.com/holidays.