Canvassing Collier County to find every homeless veteran

Published: July 23, 2019 4:22 PM EDT
Updated: July 31, 2019 9:25 AM EDT

Veterans and volunteers are going into the woods in search of homeless veterans. The goal is to get an accurate count, so Collier County can get these heroes the help they need.

More than 50 volunteers set out across Collier County through the scorching heat on Monday. WINK News went along as they canvassed the woods in search of veterans in need. Volunteers gave out backpacks full of necessities while offering help.

Wounded Warriors of Collier County spearheaded the homeless veteran count, working with the Hunger and Homeless Coalition of Collier County, along with other non-profits and government agencies.

Previous annual homeless counts did not record many, if any, veterans there. As a result, the federal government sent available resources elsewhere.

The focused effort to find homeless veterans is designed to demonstrate a need for transitional housing in Collier County. On Monday, the volunteers will be back out there, canvassing the county for more homeless veterans.

“Veterans they encounter now have to be shipped out to other counties around the state because we do not have homes for them or places for them to sleep in Collier County,” said Dale Mullin, Wounded Warriors of Collier County president. “Permanent housing, I should say or transitional housing.”

Angelo Mazzarone, a U.S. Army veteran who served in the late 1980s, told us he has been camping in the woods since he lost the sailboat he was living on two years ago.

“It’s good for the ones that need it; there’s quite a few of us out here,” Mazzarone said. “There are some camps out there way south of us, heading out more towards Everglades City and stuff that probably hardly ever come out. A couple of them guys, I’ve known since I was a kid.”

Veteran resources

JFCS of the Suncoast/ Veteran Services
941-366-2224, ext 628

Veteran Services of Collier County

Naples Vet Center

Veterans Crisis Hotline

Text 838255 to connect with a VA responder
Confidential online

Wounded Warriors of Collier County

Home Base: Southwest Florida Warrior Health & Fitness

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

David Lawrence Center

St. Matthew’s House

Catholic Charities – Family Resource Center

Helps Outreach

Salvation Army – Family Services Center