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Program helping homeless veterans find a place to call their own

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- On any given day, 3oo to 400 veterans in Milwaukee are homeless. This, according to the Milwaukee Homeless Veterans Initiative -- which is helping those veterans to get off the street and into a home.

"Faith and a dream" is all John Laura and his family had when they moved to Milwaukee four months ago.

Laura had left his hometown of Milwaukee in 2001 when he joined the Army straight out of high school. After one deployment to Iraq, he left the service in 2005 and stayed in Texas.

He says life was a struggle over the next decade.

"I was 20 when I went to Iraq. I turned 21 over there, so I was a baby still and with everything that I was going through then and mentally going through now I needed not a lending hand, but a crying shoulder," Laura said.

He found that in Milwaukee.

The Milwaukee Homeless Veterans Initiative, or MHVI began in 2008 when two Vietnam veterans wanted to see less talking and more action.

Five years later, they now have several programs, including an emergency food pantry, basic supplies for those on the streets and providing household goods.

Though Laura was eventually able to rent a house with the help of the Center for Veterans Issues, his family had nothing to put inside of it.

"Once an individual gets that, generally all they have is a backpack.  They usually have no transportation, no money, and that`s where we come in. We basically can help them have a home," Tracey Sperko said.

Laura says the MHVI donated everything he has inside his home, including the couch, the TV, kitchenware, a microwave, a dining room table, food, a coffeemaker, dishes, etc.

The family from Texas had nothing for winter.

"The brought my kids hats, gloves, snow boots, snow suits," Laura said.

MHVI even paired Laura's family with another family for Christmas. Without them, Laura's kids would have gotten few, if any Christmas gifts.

Each item the family was given was life-changing -- even right down to the dish rags.

"They would be insignificant to someone who was already here stable. Considering the fact that I didn`t have anything but my clothing and minor toys for them and like $50 to my name, it was huge to me. It was like winning the lottery almost," Laura said.

MHVI is always looking for volunteers to help sort and pack donations. As far as items go, seasonal clothing and household goods like kitchen tables and plates are always in need.

CLICK HERE for more information or to donate to the Milwaukee Homeless Veterans Initiative.


  • August Jones

    Center for Veterans Issues DOES NOT HELP homeless veterans; the homeless veterans HAVE TO QUALIFY for a few HUD-VASH housing vouchers, most do not qualify and remain homeless.

    • jamesnhughes

      The best thing for the homeless veterans is the lifeline program. Its easy to get a free phone if you sign up. As jobs for unemployed sway online, homeless are left int he dark. Everyone gets their employment online(Well not every one but you get the point). Government assistance in now available for broadband highspeed internet usage. The life line program has adapted to the new technological advances of our time. Spread the word you could help out someone in need! Source:

  • John Doe

    What is your definition of homeless? I say do more research before you do an interview with someone you report as homeless and without family. This man has family, another child, all right here in Milwaukee. First question as a reporter you should have thought of why would you move from warm less cost of living Texas to move to cold low employment Milwaukee without any family. What bridges have you burnt to make you “homeless”. This family never slept a night on the streets or in a car while in Milwaukee. Please get your story straight before you put a story on the news.

    Hopefully you read your comments.
    Look up his other child that is not in this report.
    Look up his relatives who live right here in Milwaukee that have helped him since he has been here (from what I understand since Fall of 2013)

    *I am feeling bad for the true homeless person that is still on the streets with no support or family


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