Illinois Sees Increase in Homeless Vets

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Veterans put their lives on the line to protect our freedom. But the fight can be even harder when soldiers get home.

“I was in food service when went to Vietnam they that took my spatula a way from me and gave me a rifle, said Vietnam veteran James Gream.

James Gream and Kyle Kent are not related but they do share a bond.

“I spent 34 years total. I spent 10 years in the Marine Corps,” said Gream.

Gream is Vietnam war veteran. And more than thirty years later Kent served in Afghanistan. They both find comfort in sharing their war stories.

“I have friends in the past that they have going to locations that don’t have family they don’t have that support and they’ve struggle,” said Kent.

Gream and Kent are what some would say are the lucky ones. They had a family waiting for their return and employment.

“If I didn’t have family here in this town it would have been way more difficult,” said Kent.

But that’s not always the case. New data from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development shows that homeless veterans declined in 33 states in a year. However Illinois saw a slight increase of nearly 200 homeless veterans since 2009, a 19 percent hike.

“No, it’s really not surprising it said don’t give me wrong but it’s not surprising,” said Kent.

Both men says the state needs to do a better job in helping vets.

“If you’re going to go and serve your country in everything your country ought to take care of you when you come back,” said Gream.

The State overall between 2014 and 2015 saw an increase of 802 homeless individuals, which is a nearly 11 percent increase, the fifth highest in the nation.
 

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