MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The effort to end veteran homelessness just got harder. More veterans in need were identified Friday during an event at Target Field to help those who’ve served our country.

The Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans is working with state agencies and other organizations to end veteran homelessness in the state, but word of the effort has uncovered more veterans in need.

During the presentation of colors at MACV’s annual Stand Down, counselors were busy adding new people to the state’s homeless veterans registry.

“We identify new folks all the time. Today, I think we are going to identify a whole bunch of folks we didn’t know before,” said Jennifer Ho, Minnesota housing commissioner.

Ho says for every veteran they find a home, there is another in-need veteran identified.

Underneath the stands at Target Field is where veterans are greeted and placed on the homeless registry. She says there is no static number of homeless veterans. Today, there are 213 veterans living without shelter.

“We’re close, we’re not that close, we got a little work to do,” Ho said.

The work begins on the concourse here at Target Field. Sixty providers helped connect veterans with Minnesota veteran service organizations, employment opportunities, clothing, housing and haircuts.

“To come out and everyone gather and a place for veterans to come together like the speaker said earlier, it feels like home – a lot of veterans around, a lot of support,” Army veteran Justin Schommer said. “It’s really nice to have, it’s really nice to have it – means the world.”

For most veterans, this time spent together is special.

“No. 1: You mingle and everybody is your friend because you know everybody is in the same boat as you are,” Air Force veteran Russ Cramer said.

Veterans were given grab bags with all the essentials needed to survive if out on the streets.

“A lot of us have gone through some more than others, but we are all here to support each other,” Marine veteran Mark Pelmares said.

Veterans also get the support they need to help them overcome the obstacles they face.

More than 800 veterans attended Friday’s stand down. MACV says it will continue to work with state, local and federal partners in hopes of making Minnesota the fourth state in the United States to end Veteran homelessness.

Reg Chapman

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