Lubbock VA Housing First program reaching out to homeless veterans

Published: Aug. 27, 2015 at 1:32 AM CDT|Updated: May. 19, 2016 at 2:26 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - They don't need hand outs, they need hand ups.

That's what one Lubbock veteran said after he lived on the streets here for years, searching for shelter.

But the Lubbock Veterans Association Housing First Program helped change that for Edmon Turner Jr, while restoring his pride.

Turner grew up in Lubbock, and then joined the Army when he was 18.

"I really enjoyed it," he said. "I went all over Germany. You travel free, you live free."

At age 31, that adventure came to a close.

"Coming back home, it was a whole different story," Turner said, "because we always had a roof over our head in the service, and it was just an adjustment when we got back."

That is when Turner said a war started within himself.

"I was diagnosed with depression," Turner said. "I was homeless. I would have to go from place to place, from shelter to shelter trying to search and find food and trying to find a place to relax, get out of the cold. And it just lowered our self-esteem."

After three years of this solo battle,  he met Michael Boyd.

"I'm a veteran myself, so this is a population close to me," Boyd said, "and you hate to see people that have served be out on the street."

Boyd served in the Navy in the 1990s, but he has a different mission now with the Lubbock VA Housing First Program.

"We have services available that I would like to see them use," Boyd said.

Boyd told Turner he was eligible for a veteran home voucher that they receive through a partnership with the Lubbock Housing Authority.

"We've got to show them that we have things that will improve their lives," Boyd said, "and validate what they've been through."

When Turner chose his home on 34th Street, he said he was overwhelmed with joy.

"You don't have to worry about that 'Get out' or that kind of stuff," he said, "or, 'You done ran out your welcome,' and I was glad for that."

As Turner gets back on his feet, he still seeks out his fellow soldiers.

"Just give them a hug and say that, 'I love you, everything is going to be alright,'" he said. "Just keep your head up."

The Lubbock VA Housing First Program still has 15 vouchers for veterans in need of a home.

They hope to meet some of them at their Lubbock Stand Down event on Thursday from 10 a.m. to noon at the Lubbock Housing Association at 1708 Crickets Avenue.

There will be free food and vendors, and Boyd said anyone is invited to join.

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