YUMA, Ariz. – U.S. Navy Veteran Barry Eilers was living out of his car after losing his job and wife. For years no housing facility would take him in. “There was no place else for me to go unless I was willing to give up these dogs…and they’ve been with me since 2000. It’s all I got out of the divorce,” said Eilers.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development says 50,000 veterans are homeless on any given night. But heere in Yuma, an organization aims to change that. Right Turn for Yuma Veterans took Eilers and his two pups in…along with five other veterans in need.
The transitional home opened last summer on South Third Avenue. Veterans living here are able to use the resource for up to two years to get back on their feet. Director Judy Smith says, “They are really self-sufficient I think that the most important thing is for them to know that they still have those skills. And they’re proud of that. And we’re proud of that too because I couldn’t have dreamed that I could put these six men together and know that they all take care of each other the way they do.”
They cook, clean and manage the household as a team. The goal is for the men to become financially independent and socially engaged within the community. The veterans volunteer, job search and some attend church. This helps them to integrate back into society and develop a positive lifestyle.
U.S. Army Reserve Veteran Frank Abdullah said, “Having a roof over your head…a whole new paradise here, I never forgot or gave up on order. When I first came in here and I loved the way the kitchen looked. Everything was clean.”
The few veterans who were admitted into the program say they are very much grateful for the help.
“And if anyone can make a difference that’s good that’s what we need. We have a lot of people that did a lot for the country, gave all or were willing to give all and we definitely don’t need to have those guys forgotten.”