JAMES ISLAND, SC (WCSC) - Nearly half of the homeless in Charleston are veterans, according to the One Less Homeless Vet Program. Today Family Service, Inc. held a cookout for this cause at the James Island County Park. The program is changing the lives of veterans in the Lowcountry.
"Just keep going, just don't give up, don't stop," says U.S. Army Veteran, Derek Destin. "I just want other veterans to know that they're not alone. I thought that I was alone."
Destin, was assigned to help set-up the One Less Homeless Vet fundraiser, through his job with AmeriCorps.
"I'm a homeless vet in the homeless veteran program at the Charleston VA, so I said well once I'll get there I'll first set-up do the volunteer work and then I'll find out if I meet the criteria," says Destin.
He soon found out he did meet the criteria.
"Our Company, Family Services Inc. houses homeless veterans in shelters from the street, but we felt like an empty home wasn't good enough so we created One Less Homeless Vet," says Homeless Prevention Case Manager Kristin Forrest.
Forrest is a disabled veteran and she says the organization also uses donor funds to purchase bedding, kitchen items and furniture for vets. Something Destin will benefit from.
"So I'm going to be moving into my apartment and basically since I'm starting off, I don't have anything," says Destin. "I've got my vehicle, and I've got the clothes on my back and a couple of other things."
Forrest says, "We want to do something to help [veterans] feel at home when they get there, we also have people signing canvas signs that have welcome home messages and gifts to hang on the wall."
The program is funded by donations and 100% of the proceeds from the cookout for a cause will help support veterans.
"Serving my country is something that I am ultimately proud of," says Destin. "There was nothing better to me that I have done in my life other than serve my country. I feel that this is the culmination of all of that."
For more information on the One Less Homeless Vet Program or to make a donation visit: https://www.fsisc.org/OLHV.aspx