May 20, 2015

Homelessness hits home

By Edna Sailor

When Louis "Mac" Mcleod, Minot Area Homeless Coalition Executive Director spoke to veterans groups in New Town last week, he brought not only his years of experience and expertise, he brought his passion for serving homeless veterans as well.

"It makes me mad that veterans who have served their country are homeless, and we will do whatever it takes to see that they get the services they need," McLeod said.

McLeod is responsible for a seven county area including Mountrail County.

"There are only two of us in our office. My goal is to reach out to find a better way to work with New Town, other communities and the Three Affiliated Tribes. Scarce resources demand that groups combine efforts to deliver services to our veterans," he said.

McLeod described three key service areas. These include emergency service, temporary, supportive housing and permanent housing stages.

"The first thing people need to understand is who these homeless veterans are and what their diverse needs are. When homeless veterans come to my office, it’s crucial that we talk with them because we need to know who we are dealing with. Normally they will fall into one of the three specific categories."

McLeod explained emergency needs of homeless veterans.

"In these cases, the individual needs immediate medical care or other urgent need," he said. "Last week I had a veteran who had been off his medications and the situation became life threatening. We referred him to the emergency room to be stabilized and then down to Fargo’s Project Hart where he would be allowed to stay for up to 18 months to get healthy, find a job and move into independence. Sometimes we encounter veterans at this level who only need day service. They need a shower, a good meal and a chance to rest. Many times those vets can no longer live in a social setting for a variety of reasons. We want to ensure they get what they need when passing through our doors, but we know they do not want to stay even though we offer them the opportunity."


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