Veterans help veterans experiencing homelessness in Southwest Florida

It can be a tough transition back home and to civilian life for men and women in the U.S. Armed Forces. And they often find themselves wondering what’s next when they return to American soil. Unfortunately, some of our nation’s heroes are left homeless when they return.

Veteran Dayo Felix-Doyle is a law student at Ave Maria University. Doyle understands what these veterans go through because he was homeless at one point in his life.

“Lived in my car,” Doyle said. “I took my shower inside of a gym at times … just making it.”

Doyle served in the U.S. Marine Corps. He was deployed to Iraq for three years before returning home. Doyle said he felt lost when it was time for him to make the transition back from war.

“As far as having a home that was as stable as it could be, that just wasn’t my situation,” Doyle said.

Doyle described how many veterans likely feel when they return home after serving overseas.

”When they come back, they’re back into society. They’re alone,” Doyle said. “They don’t have that unit anymore. They don’t have that combat unit anymore.”

Vietnam veteran Dale Mullin works with Wounded Warriors of Collier County. the organization provides services that help veterans get back on their feet.

New data shows services like the ones Mullin helps veterans benefit from contributes to a 2-percent decrease in veteran homelessness nationwide.

“I’m glad to see that because that means that the country is bringing awareness to an issue,” Mullin said.

Mullin said the higher number of homeless veterans reported, the more help veterans can get from the VA.

Wounded Warriors of Collier County plans to have another homeless veterans count in January. For more information about how to get involved, visit the Wounded Warriors of Collier County website.

Mullin, who has scoured the woods in Southwest Florida to find homeless veterans that aren’t being reported, said the number may be higher than people might think.

“The climate allows them to hide in the woods, hide behind buildings,” Mullin said. “Whereas you get in the colder climates, that wouldn’t be true.”

MORE: Wounded Warriors of Collier County

Reporter:Gina Tomlinson
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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