TOMAH, Wis. (WKBT) - More than 300 military veterans were homeless last year in Wisconsin. A local organization is trying to get struggling veterans an affordable place to live, and a better life.
The Veterans Assistance Foundation renovated an old building in downtown Tomah. The project placed eight new apartments above the thrift store and will house veterans in need of affordable housing.
The purpose is to get veterans a chance to live comfortably after their sacrifice to our country.
Steve Thompson's life has revolved around service. He spent the early part of his life with the U.S. Army. Now he is a part of the Tomah community.
"I'm from Phoenix, Arizona, and I came up to Wisconsin in 2013," Thompson said.
The call to duty is not free.
"I think there are a lot of veterans who are a little messed up from it," Thompson said "It takes a toll, I think."
Thompson suffered his own battle with what he saw while he wore the uniform. He spent time at the Tomah VA and he is ready to start a new life.
"I am so grateful for the VA. They really helped me out," he said. "The program did me a lot of good."
After his program was over, money was tight.
"I don't have a lot of money right now," Thompson said. "Honestly, I just need a start."
Faye Vega works with veterans like Thompson, and she said many are in his position.
"If they didn't have any recent work history, it was difficult to find employment without that," Vega said.
She said affordable housing is at a premium and most landlords shy away from taking people with mental health issues.
She said it's unfortunate when veterans are left without a home.
"To me that's sad, and if you care about your veteran population it makes sense to me to back them in any way that you can," Vega said.
The Veterans Assistance Foundation renovated this building to help meet that need. These veterans protected our home and now these organizers are providing them with a home of their own.
Thompson said this will help get him to the place he wants to be.
"After that, I will take care of it myself, but I don't want to live under a tree," he said.
The money for the project came in a loan from the city of Tomah, the foundation, among other organizations.
The VAF is currently accepting applications for the apartments. For more information or to submit an application, call 608-372-4506.
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