Homeless, veterans, face the cold weather on Veterans Day - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Homeless, veterans, face the cold weather on Veterans Day

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With Veteran's Day among us, and the opportunity to recognize our military veterans both past and present, it can be easy to forget about those who are still struggling without a home, a job or both.

The numbers of those veterans are on the rise. In fact, according to the Center for American Progress, last year, veterans of the military accounted for 1 in every 7 homeless people.

When the weather gets as cold as it is Monday night, that's a hard number to digest.

With just under a dozen places to get a warm  meal or some rest in Sioux Falls, the Union Gospel Mission has been around for more than a century. It serves right around 100 people, men, women and children, at a time, and never close doors even when it gets this cold.

"It's interesting to see the transfer of thinking this time of year. More careful to get in and they want to hang onto it as long as they can. The mood gets better," Fran Stenberg said.

Melvin Hair is one of many Army vets taking advantage of a warm bed and services that will help him get a home and a job after recent foreclosure.

"I'm in a town I don't know and no work, as of yet. It's frustrating, scary at my age," Melvin Hair said.

Scary... but he's working hard to change that. Though, he says, things don't get any easier when the temperature drops.

"I'm glad it's here. I don't know where I'm going next but I'm glad to have it. They're leaving doors open for us all day long so we're not out there at least," Melvin Hair said.

Stenberg's pleased with services available in Sioux Falls to help the homeless, including veterans, but hopes numbers will soon go down and stay down before the temperature does.

"It's sad. That's what it is. I'm encouraged by what I've seen at least locally which is why our numbers are less. It's a sin if you don't," Stenberg said.

While many organizations provide warm shelter to the homeless, others say they weren't ready for the cold snap and normally don't open doors until next month.

As of last year, all records were broken at the Union Gospel Mission and with this cold weather, they expect to see it again this year.

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