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Homeless veterans get help

Catholic Charities Hawaii matches ex-warriors with service providers

By William Cole


Army Sgt. Wade Rhein was a crewman on Honest John, Lance and Nike-Hercules tactical nuclear missile batteries in Italy in the latter half of the 1970s.

“At that time we were concerned with the Red Army coming down through Tito’s Yugoslavia, and it was our job then to make that pass impassable,” the McKinley High School graduate said Tuesday.

Rhein, now 56 and living at the U.S. Vets facility at Kalaeloa, said he has been homeless twice in the past three years.

“I made choices in life and they had consequences,” he said. “I became a homeless, chronic alcoholic through my choices. All the things that I vowed that I’d never become came to fruition — and that’s how it works sometimes.”

The good news is his life is back on the upswing, thanks, he says, to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and veterans programs run by other agencies.

“On the 21st I celebrated my one-year sobriety anniversary,” Rhein said. “The VA has helped me incredibly.”

A wide range of programs for homeless veterans was available at Ala Moana Beach Park’s McCoy Pavilion on Tuesday at a resource fair called “Stand Down for O‘ahu.” Sixty-two homeless veterans had come through by 12:30 p.m. to meet with about 35 service providers.

Catholic Charities Hawaii, which hosted the event, said almost 400 homeless veterans sleep on the streets or in temporary shelters each night in Hono­lulu.

Many have substance abuse or mental health problems, experts say.

Of the approximately 1,100 veterans who experienced homelessness in Hawaii last year, about 5 percent were women, according to U.S. Vets, which provides job assistance, counseling and drug- and alcohol-free housing at 11 facilities in six states and the District of Columbia.

The first such resource fair for homeless veterans was held in San Diego in 1988 by a group of Vietnam vets, and since then the events have reached more than 200,000 veterans and their families nationwide, Catholic Charities said.

“Given our current world conflict, we are seeing a new wave of veterans who are struggling and need affordable housing, financial education and counseling,” said Jerry Rauckhorst, president and CEO of Catholic Charities Hawaii.

Kalihi-Palama Health Center provided medical screenings for homeless vets, while Aloha Medical Mission offered dental screenings and the VA administered flu shots, officials said.

At 12:30 p.m. at McCoy Pavillion, six veterans were getting free haircuts from students of the Hawaii Institute of Hair Design.

“It’s nice. It’s good to help and give back since they (the veterans) have done so much to give to us,” said Steffine Ferrara, 22, who was cutting hair.

Erin Rutherford, a program supervisor with Catholic Charities who helped organize the event, said an increasing number of programs for veterans are making an impact and that the numbers of homeless veterans on Oahu are coming down a bit. However, she said, there’s still “a very great need.”

Among the initiatives:

>> Catholic Charities last year created Supportive Services for Veteran Families, which is able to help house 140 single veterans and families, Rutherford said.

>> U.S. Vets and the YWCA of Oahu will offer the only transitional housing in the state specifically for female veterans. The YWCA will provide 20 beds in 10 rooms at a residence in Makiki called Fernhurst.

>> Over the past 21⁄2 years, the Mental Health America of Hawaii’s “Power Up!” program has helped about 100 homeless vets with families secure jobs, the nonprofit organization said.

According to the organization, the unemployment rate for young veterans returning home from Af­ghani­stan is

22 percent, more than double the national rate.

Michael Scheuermann, 42, who served in the Army from 1990 to 1996, struggled with alcohol and drug abuse and came to Hawaii six months ago, said he appreciates the help he’s received.

“It’s been pretty good (at U.S. Vets). I mean, I was on the streets, and they got me off the streets and I’ve been there about a month,” he said.

He’ll be part of an outpatient substance abuse program through U.S. Vets for the next 12 weeks, he said.

“Once I’m finished with that program, that’s when they’ll start with the job assistance,” he said.

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ejkorvette wrote:
Such a Wonderful Story and event. Mahalo to the Veterans Administration and their staff for reaching out to our Veterans. LEST WE NEVER FORGET!!!
on October 31,2012 | 03:17AM
juke wrote:
yea right.where where you.va when the vietnam vets came home????and there fighting the va for help.
on October 31,2012 | 04:15AM
Grimbold wrote:
Army Sgt. Wade Rhein is honestly admitting his failures : Homelessness is almost always a result of character deficiency which leads to bad choices and behavior. By admitting it and the desire to change the devastated persons are able to accept help to improve their character and subsequent may lead normal lives..
on October 31,2012 | 06:01AM
allie wrote:
The rich use the poor and middle class to fight their wars. Then, when they are through with them, they throw them into the streets. Bring back the draft and make everybody serve. Then watch as that will end wars quickly. Bush knew that if he did not pay for his phony wars and did not draft the children of the rich, no one would challenge his slavery to israel and big oil. He was right. Slinky but right.
on October 31,2012 | 08:11AM
honupono wrote:
on October 31,2012 | 09:03AM
RetiredWorking wrote:
Nope. The vVet Nam war was fought by the poor and middle class. The rich had their loopholes so they wouldn't serve. College students didn't serve. They had deferments until they graduated or flunked out. Cowards who could afford it deserted to Canada.No need the Selective Service (draft). As long as the military benefits and pay is so attractive, there will be more than enough volunteers to feed the war machine. I was drafted,got paid $100.50 per month upon enlisting. When I ETS'd as a sergeant, my pay was $400 monthly. That's with combat pay.
on October 31,2012 | 09:24AM
allie wrote:
heroes fought AGAINST this bad war. It was a totally phony war ,manufactured by the rich. We ares till paying for Viet Nam.
on October 31,2012 | 10:44AM
RetiredWorking wrote:
I'm a hero. I served three tours in viet Nam and earned the Bronze Star. I did not fight against this bad war. Funny how you often put your foot in your mouth.
on October 31,2012 | 04:09PM
Larry01 wrote:
It ain't funny at all.
on October 31,2012 | 04:37PM
Larry01 wrote:
allie, you know nothing. Good men died in that war committing heroic acts. Yes, heros fought against the war, too, but don't you dare disregard the brave people who fought in combat. You know nothing.
on October 31,2012 | 04:37PM
Kapena2001 wrote:
That would also mean women would have to serve!
on October 31,2012 | 09:47AM
allie wrote:
so? We outfight men. If we had universal service with NO loopholes, the rich would put an end to wars like Iraq and Afghanistan. Wars like that are fought because the rich know they will have to do nothing
on October 31,2012 | 10:45AM
RetiredWorking wrote:
"We women outfight men". So how do you personally outfight men, allie? Another one of your "foot in mouth" comment. I don't recall ANY women serving in Viet Nam, much less fighting on the battlefield. Oh wait, the women were fighting on the ENEMY's side.And that's a fact!
on October 31,2012 | 04:13PM
Larry01 wrote:
Well, plenty of American women were serving in Vietnam, but not in combat. Still doesn't justify allie's dunce comment by any means.
on October 31,2012 | 04:39PM
RetiredWorking wrote:
Not true. In 3 years, the only "round eyes" I saw were USO women and entertainers from U.S. and Australia. I never saw a woman in uniform.
on October 31,2012 | 09:57PM
2bworker wrote:
Will you serve if drafted?
on October 31,2012 | 09:48AM
Kapena2001 wrote:
I am a Vietnam Vet with 22 years in the US Army.
on October 31,2012 | 10:05AM
allie wrote:
Many Hawaiians served bravely and with honor. I met a nice Pearl Harbor vet called Uncle Herb. He spoke powerfullyl about what Hawaiians want to contribute to America and how most have always done so. He was one of the first real hawaiians I met out here.
on October 31,2012 | 10:46AM
Kapena2001 wrote:
When the bullets started whizzing by and incoming rounds are impacting, the last thing on your mind is duty,honor,country or god.Your only concern is survival for yourself and the guy next to you.You know that your country does'nt give a damn about you.I survived 12 months of the most brutal environment ever imaginable.The jungle was harsh and unforgivable.It just chewed you up and spat out the parts it did'nt want.And at the same time there was people out there that was desperately trying to kill you.When I came home,all I wanted to do was be with my wife and family.I found out very quickly that the people in this country hated me more than the enemy did.I had more respect for the enemy.At least I knew what side the were on.
on October 31,2012 | 12:06PM
IAmSane wrote:
Wow... thank you for sharing that. That was an amazing read.
on October 31,2012 | 02:04PM
allie wrote:
well said
on October 31,2012 | 02:53PM
Kapena2001 wrote:
While in Vietnam in 1969 I survived 12 months of the most brutal conditions imaginable.When the bullets are whizzing by and you're recieving incoming mortar and rockets the last thing on your mind is "god",duty honor or country.The only thing you're concerned about is survival for yourself and your buddys.We all knew that our country did'nt give a damn about us.The jungle was harsh and brutal.It than just chewed you up and spat out the parts it did'nt want,while at the same time some people out there were trying desperately trying to kill you.When I came home, I did'nt expect any thank you's or pats on the back.All I wanted to do was see my wife and kids.I quickly learned that the people in this country hated me more the enemy did.I had more respect for the enemy.At least I knew whose side they were on.
on October 31,2012 | 01:45PM
Larry01 wrote:
Good work by a good organization. Thanks, Catholic Charities Hawaii.
on October 31,2012 | 08:28AM
allie wrote:
on October 31,2012 | 02:53PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
I'm glad to see this but one of the numbers stands out....35 service organizations trying to provide for 62 homeless vets. That has to be a huge overhead for little return. How about these organizations merge and create maybe ten bigger, efficient units and extend the outreach? I know it's nice to get all those individual grants but we could certainly get ore services to more vets more quickly with a little streamlining - methinks - just an idea.
on October 31,2012 | 09:47AM
Larry01 wrote:
62 vets were there at the event. Elsewhere in the article it mentioned 1100 vets who experienced homelessness last year. Additionally, most of those organizations serve many more than just vets.
on October 31,2012 | 04:43PM
Anonymous wrote:
I think Peace Corp volunteers who serve more than 4 years should be give veteran status because U.S. need to help people not hurt them. The City & State is hurting the homeless by stealing their tents to force them off the street it you're going to help Vet you should there friends.
on October 31,2012 | 07:30PM
RetiredWorking wrote:
As far as I know, All Army women personnel were assigned to the WAC's (Women Army Corps). They were not part of the men's platoon/company/batallion/brigade/division, as they are now. I don't think the WAC's served in 'Nam. I could be wrong, but like I said, I NEVER saw a woman soldier in RVN.
on October 31,2012 | 10:04PM
RetiredWorking wrote:
Ok, I take that back. 10,000 female officers (no enlisted ones)served in 'Nam, as medical personnel, MACV personnel, etc. from 1965-1973. That's compared to 2,594,000 American soldiers who served there.That's .003855 percent of women, or about 3,885 women per 1,000,000 U.S. male soldiers.
on October 31,2012 | 10:24PM
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