By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — This season, WCCO’s “Home for the Holidays” shines a light on homeless military veterans.

The proud community members often hesitate to reach out for help. That is where special events called StandDowns come in.

They offer veterans access to services and resources to get them back on track.

For many service members, the front lines of the war in Iraq were home for more than one tour of duty.

Army Field Artillery Specialist Michael Bryant says his life went from war to being homeless.

“Coming up here, it took us three days, breaking down the vehicle, staying in the car, we stayed in the car for three nights,” Bryant said.

Moving from Texas to Minnesota, Bryant landed in the path of someone who cared.

“I was able to get a hold of the veterans’ services in Owatonna, and Renee the service officer there directed me to MAC-V,” Bryant said

(credit: CBS)

The Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans, or MAC-V, helped Michael and his family find housing.

The StandDown in Mankato gives him hope for a new job and resources to keep his family from becoming homeless again.

Sue Worlds organizes this StandDown, an event she said does more than just connect veterans with resources.

“Wells Fargo is here to talk to veterans about opportunities for loans, we have the city of Mankato they have the section 8 programs,” Worlds said. “A lot of comradery goes on in the center here. Veterans gather, we noticed that this happens to be a space where they come and spend the whole day together.”

Carol Born, the wife of a veteran, says they enjoy the fellowship that StandDowns provide.

“They don’t get the chance to talk to the other vets any other time of the year,” Born said.

They also hope to help younger veterans understand the importance of being there for other members of this military family who have fallen on hard times.

“Without MAC-V, I would still be on the streets,” Bryant said.

He said his life now has direction — all because he had the strength to ask for help.

MAC-V does not duplicate any services already available through government veterans benefits.

You can help them serve vets by making a donation at MAC-V’s website, or you can simply text “MAC-V” to 41444.

Reg Chapman