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"Stand down" event helps homeless veterans

By Amanda Brannon
Published On: Oct 25 2013 06:15:11 PM CDT

Hundreds of veterans came out for the 2013 Pitt County Stand Down event.

The event, held at the Eppes Recreation Center on Nash Street in Greenville on Friday, helped homeless veterans get support to hopefully get off the streets and into jobs and housing.

Jim Harris is a navy combat veteran who has seen his fair share of troubles. After he got out of the navy, he said he became an alcoholic and drug addict.

“During the course of my drinking I wound up homeless a couple of times. And finally I became a part of a 12 step program. In 1969, I became clean and sober and so far it's been holding. 44 years of that,” he said.

Since then, he has survived six heart attacks and cancer.

“I know what it's like to feel hopeless and to feel like there's nothing out there and nobody gives a darn. And to see somebody get out of that frame of mind means they have a chance to change their life. So, anything that bring that about is worth doing,” Harris said.

Jack Hibbs was in the navy for four years. After serving our country, he became homeless for seven years.

“I lost my job in 2005 and it wasn't until last year that I finally got a place to stay because I was jobless and did what I had to do to survive,” Hibbs said.

He credits his faith, friends and events like this that helped him persevere through the hard times.

“It gives you hope that there's people out there that do care about veterans and are willing to help them,” he said.

According to program founder, Sheila Parson, there were 242 homeless veterans that attended that this event in 2012. This year that number has been reduced to 160. With programs like this that help veterans get jobs, the goal is to one day get that number to zero.

“Being a veteran myself, [I don’t believe] being a veteran and being homeless should not be in the same sentence,” Parson, said.

If you would like to donate money for the 2014 "Pitt County Stand Down” event visit: www.qsafoundation.org