A decade after 9/11, the costs of war on and off the battlefield continue to mount. Across the U.S., 1 in 3 homeless adults is a veteran and their numbers are growing.
A larger effort was being made on Wednesday to help these veterans get off the streets. Those who served our country were treated to a red carpet welcome at the Stand Down at McCoy Pavilion.
William Wilhelm is a homeless Army veteran whose story sounds familiar.
"Drugs. All drugs," said Wilhelm about what he said led him to his current situation.
He and more than 100 other veterans were being given access to services at the event started on the mainland to help them get back on their feet and into society.
"Many homeless veterans carry other problems that have interfered with their lives and some of these are mental health problems, drugs problems," said Dr. James Hastings, director of the state Department of Veteran Affairs.
But there's an overwhelming need that will take a bit longer.
"Housing. That's the main thing," said Wilhelm.
The VA Department said there is a plan to build more housing, but the number of veterans in need continues to grow out of the ongoing war effort.
"So even though we have new programs like this to try to help them and address their problems, we're still generating new veterans with these problems," said Hastings.
A count back in January showed there were 332 homeless veterans on Oahu. Hastings believes that number is underestimated.
A growing number of the homeless veterans are now women and veterans with families.
Veronica Woolford, who retired after 20 years in the Air Force, is among those. She said never planned on being homeless.
"My house and plans fell through," said Woolford.
She's currently looking for housing and trying to get her dog training business off the ground.
"I don't do drugs. I don't do alcohol. I don't smoke. I take my vitamins and exercise and work on my small business. And I just don't give up," said Woolford.
To address the growing needs, Stand Down is expected to become an annual event.
Stand Down was hosted by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, the U.S. Department of Labor, state Office of Veteran Services and about 200 volunteers.