Two veterans in Amarillo receive housing after being homeless

Several veterans are left without homes and jobs. ABC 7 news met with a few homeless veterans in the Texas Panhandle to see how they are taken care of. (Photo by Kendra Hall ABC 7).

ABC 7 news took a closer look into U.S. veterans who are without homes in the Texas Panhandle.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates that close to 40,000 veterans are homeless at any given night nationally.

Most veterans in the area who ABC 7 news spoke with say they are taken care of well compared to other cities, but it is still a growing problem.

"I was born and raised here. Went in the marine corp. when I was 17 in '83," said Tim Cook, veteran.

When ABC 7 news met Cook, he was living in the Salvation Army. The VA will not help Tim because he is listed as other than honorable.

Cook recently got a home of his own.

"You see me with a smile now!" Cook said.

Cook was given a house through Vet Star, which is a non-profit that helps veterans in the South Plains.

"There are people who don't qualify for VA services," said Chris Israel, Housing Specialist for Vet Star. "There is some time in service things that you need for the VA. We only need "X" amount of days after boot camp to qualify for our program."

Vet Star helps anyone above a dishonorable discharge, the veterans who fall through the cracks, all on a VA grant.

"To see a homeless veteran on the street while something else is being funding is painful for us to watch," said Israel.

Roughly 9% of homeless veterans are women. ABC 7 news met Kaili who served in the army. She just now got a home after living in her car and on the streets.

"Trying to get your kids back. It is just really hard," said Kaili Atchison, veteran. "You just sleep in your car. I stayed in the park sometimes. When you go to the shelter to try to get some help, they don't have any room for you or they kick you out because you have PTSD or anxiety."

Atchison served in the U.S. Army for six years. She got out to be with her kids and could not keep a job because she was so used to the structure of the military. It was a tough adjustment she says.

"Being in the military, you have structure," said Atchison. "You wake up every morning, your told when to go to the bathroom, how you're going to go to the bathroom and then you get out here and I probably had 8 jobs in the past two years."

Her PTSD from time in Iraq made it hard to keep a job. Eventually she lost her home and her kids. She was able to get an apartment through Vet Star and now has a job.

"I'm beyond thankful. Beyond blessed," said Atchison. I can go to bed every night safely. I can shower every day. I have food in there to eat. I'm just trying to get back on my feet. It's hard to get back on your feet. Just one paycheck and everything can be taken away."

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