MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – The statistics are alarming.
On any given night, more than 37,000 veterans of the United States armed forces experience homelessness. A large number of them are sadly in our own backyard in the Tri-state area.
Not all soldiers are welcomed home as heroes unfortunately.
READ MORE: Voices For Vets
“There is still that thought that somebody who was serving their country is ‘damaged goods,'” Vietnam war veteran Andrew Jimenez said.
Jimenez, a Glen Cove resident, received the Purple Heart.
“The scars that I came home with on the inside were much more severe than the scars on the outside from that grenade.”
“It’s a tough world out there and our veterans are suffering more than you really know,” Ralph Esposito, from the Nassau Veterans Service Agency said.
Many veterans are struggling, trying to fit back into society, both emotionally and physically. Without help, many are unable to afford a roof over their heads.
“What is both egregious and unacceptable is that there are an estimated 5,000 veterans here in Nassau County who are either homeless, soon to be homeless, or housing insecure,” Nassau County legislator Joshua Lafazan said.
On the steps of Nassau’s executive building, the “Dignity for Heroes” initiative proposed by Lafazan would classify veterans as a new protected class under Nassau’s human rights law.
“There continues to be discrimination in finding housing,” Jimenez said.
The bill would help fund temporary housing while permanent homes are sought. If passed into law, a new transitional supportive housing facility for veterans would be built in the county as well.
Long Island is home to more veterans than any other region in New York State. Tens of thousands are older with higher disability rates; many feel forgotten.
“That’s been difficult to overcome, but we are wedging in there,” Jimenez added.
Advocates say they want to remind the world “they fought for us, it’s time we fought for them.”