Local Organizations Provide Options for Homeless Valley Veterans

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HARLINGEN – One homeless veteran is one too many. On any given night, 39,000 veterans in the U.S. find themselves without a permanent roof over their head, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Clifford Briggs is one of those veterans. From looking at him you would never know he was homeless with his big smile, positive attitude and contagious laughter.

Briggs comes from a military family, but now the ex-Navy firefighter goes to work during the day and sleeps at Loaves and Fishes in Harlingen.

"I moved down from Portland and it didn't work out too well, so I ended up at Loaves and Fishes. It's just a place to lay your head, stay out the weather at night to sleep,” he said.

Briggs said he doesn't let life's unexpected turns get the best of him.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS spoke to Tommy Martinez, the Loaves and Fishes director of Family Emergency Assistance, to see if homeless veterans in their shelter are seen often.

"It ranges. Sometimes we have one to two homeless veterans in a month during the summer months or maybe even December we might have maybe three to four homeless veterans in our shelter at one point." Felix Rodriguez, a veteran service officer with the Hidalgo County Veterans Service.

He explained to us why veterans are more likely to face homelessness.

"Well, many of these veterans that are having issues with finding a place to stay, a home are coming back with issues that civilians don't have to deal with,” he said. “And some of these issues and conditions run the gamut between post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, depressive disorders and other conditions secondary to that."

He said there are several ways you can help a homeless veteran.

"My first advice to them is to call the VA homeless hotline, it's a HUD hotline,” he said.

Rodriguez added other ways to help homeless veterans are through Family Endeavors and other organizations.

You can contact the VA Homeless Hotline at 877-424-3838. For a full list of resources click here

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