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Number of homeless veterans on the rise

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Posted at 6:38 PM, Dec 27, 2012
and last updated 2013-01-04 08:48:35-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) -- According to new government data, the odds of a veteran becoming homeless has now doubled.

This is a stark reality which faces those returning home after serving a tour in Iraq or Afghanistan.

“It's a big problem. And it's not a problem that's going to go away anytime soon,” said veteran Joe West.

West says there's a number of reasons this may be happening.

“They're coming out of the military in an extraordinary soft economy. There are not a lot of jobs out there. You only have benefits for so long,” he said.

And West is living proof of the problem.

“My wife and I lost our home in the fall of 2008,” he said. That's when West says he lost his job.

“We were within five days of living in our van and somebody came up with a camper. We were 16 months in the camper,” he said.

But West says we need to stop focusing on the problem and start finding solutions.

“These people have all offered to die so that we could live free like we do and we owe it to them to help them get back on their feet,” he said.

That's why in April, he will be part of the Homeless Veterans Stand Down at the North Florida Fairgrounds.

“We will be bringing them in. We'll be getting them hot meals for a couple of days; we'll be getting them showers and clean clothes,” said West.

West says they'll be help finding employment there too. That event will be taking place between April 5th and 7th in Tallahassee.