Help Could Come for Homeless Vets

The Obama Administration wants housing for all veterans.

At noon in Hartford, Charles Brooks was sitting in the sunshine on a bench by the pond in Bushnell Park.

Brooks has been homeless since April 2009, when he lost his job as a cake boxer at Celebration Foods in New Britain.

"I roll with the punches,” he said.

He’s been looking for work and living in shelters.

"Some people say they're worse than prison. But from what I've heard, they're better here in Hartford than in other cities," he said.

Brooks said he is on two lists for an apartment of his own and his name is slowly heading for the top.

Homeless veterans are in for special treatment from the Obama Administration, which wants to house all veterans by 2015.

Tammy Duckworth, the assistant secretary for Veterans affairs, spoke to the Partnership for Strong Communities in Hartford on Monday morning.

Most homeless veterans have three things in common, she said: mental health issues, physical health issues, and, "They're self-medicating."

Before they became homeless, they were living alone without support from families, she said.

A canvas shows on any given night that 460 veterans are homeless in Connecticut, Howard Rifkin, director of Partnership for Strong Communities said.

That might not include Charles Brooks, who served in the Air Force from 1981 to 1983. Two years is too short a stint to qualify for veterans' benefits.