Hope for homeless veterans

This Veteran's Day an alarming number of veterans are both out of work and homeless. Today ABC-57 learned 1 in 5 people at South Bend's Center for the Homeless are veterans.

John Sikorski served three tours in Iraq with the U.S. Army. Next week, he faces college finals.

"I actually sat down a long time ago and tried to figure out what my skills were coming out of the military," said Sikorski, veteran. "And one thing that stuck out in my mind was that I have a lot of medical experience."

So he enrolled in National College to pursue a career in medical assisting. But it's all thanks to his buddies at the Robert L. Miller Sr. Veteran's Center for the Homeless. Sikorski is one of 24 homeless veterans who live at the center, free of charge, while looking for work.

"We've been very fortunate- VFW, American Legion, church groups have come to us and want to do some things such as a dinner," said Kent Laudeman, director. "Hey, all of those are networking opportunities."

Networking opportunities that often lead to job openings. At the center, veterans work on translating their military resumes into civilian ones.

"I was basically a trained combat soldier," said Johnnell Pates, veteran. "I was in the special forces--so it's not like you're just going to take this and go 'okay!' You can't just walk into a regular job." 

Pates is now enrolled full-time at ITT for business management. He's only one of the men that strive to help the program reach its goal: 60 percent placement into permanent housing by the end of the two-year program.

"I start working with them on a budget sheet," said Laudeman. "And I'm interested in terms of if they're working part-time or full-time-what are they saving in a monthly kind of way. Because if they're saving something then I know they're getting ready the money for a deposit as far as an apartment is concerned."

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