Solano County is seeing an increase in the number of homeless veterans. Nationally, 1 in 4 homeless are veterans. However, out of the 110 homeless Mission Solano serves every day, 43 are veterans.
“We believe it’s more like 1 in 3 are homeless veterans here in our communities,” Raymond Courtemanche, COO of Mission Solano said.
Mission Solano has a special partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs, whom they have an agreement to house a certain number of guests. However, lately, they have over exceeded that number.
“Although we are not compensated past that number,” Courtemanche said. “If there are 50 veterans and they have 15 dependents, and we have an environment that can house them, we are going to house them.”
Mission Solano staff said the reason homeless veterans stay on the streets for longer than usual is the struggles to transition from soldier life to civilian life.
“A lot of us are just too proud to go in and ask for someone to talk to, so we tend to stay on the streets,” Michael Johnson, former Combat Engineer of the US Army said. He has been at the shelter for one week, after years of drug and alcohol addiction and incarceration.
“I was like you brother and sisters, I was the same way, saying I’m proud I don’t need to have help,” former mechanic of the US Army, Edward Campbell said. “All we knew was the soldiering stuff. And depending on how long you’ve been in, that’s all you know.” Nine months ago, he overcame his denial. He temporarily left his wife and kids to stay at the shelter while attending mechanic school.
Most guests stay at the shelter for an average of seven months. After their time there, the Johnson and Campbell hope to reunite their families and stand on their own two feet, and join the impressive group of people who make up this statistic- 80% of Mission Solano’s guests go onto moving into permanent sustainable housing.
70% of Mission Solano’s operation costs come from personal donations. For more information on how you can volunteer, donate, or help create their new Dining facility, click here.