Walk for homeless veterans collects more than $11,000 in goods

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More than $11,000 worth of help is heading to homeless veterans in Kansas.

It’s the turnout of an annual event Wednesday at the VA Center in Topeka.

Ralph Melton is a veteran. And right now he calls the Topeka Rescue Mission home. He says homelessness is something many veterans struggle with.

“The budget crisis we have now, they don’t have the money to put out there for certified training, or the care that the veterans need coming back, with the loss of all the jobs, they get out of the service, they have no place to work to support themselves,” Melton says.

Executive Director of the Rescue Mission, Barry Feaker, says there are contributors to the issue.

“There can be those service related issues, the post traumatic stress disorders that come along with combat service,” Feaker says.

The efforts to spread awareness are widespread. Hundreds at the Topeka VA Center are doing their part to raise supplies at the VA2K annual walk.

“The items that we ask them to donate are things that they can’t purchase with the subsidized money that they have left and with their food stamp or vision cards,” says organizer Heather Davis.

Nearly 6,000 items worth more than $11,000 – a huge turnout to tackle what organizers call a massive issue.

“Between eastern Kansas, which is Leavenworth, and Topeka we have 1,533 homeless veterans,” Davis says.

“It’s your family, and it’s our family and it’s our nation and it’s what Abraham Lincoln entrusted us to do, to take care of those veterans and their families and we do everything that we can to do that,” says VA employee and veteran, Jeff Mittermeier.

As Melton completes his program at the Mission, he hopes events like the VA2K will help fellow veterans in need.

“If it wasn’t for the veterans who are fighting the wars for us, we wouldn’t have the freedoms that we have now, so anything that can be done for them ought to be done.”

Last year the nationwide event brought in $240,000 in goods to homeless veterans and about 22,000 people participated.

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