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Spotlight Does Not Shine on Homeless Veterans

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DURHAM — Homeless veterans are not just common in big cities. Last month, almost 60 veterans stayed at theDurham Rescue Mission.

There are many veterans at the mission trying to turn their lives around. These people do not get much of the headlines on Veterans Day.

Veterans standing at attention get a lot of attention on Nov. 11. But, the spotlight is rarely on veterans like Jerry Blake.

The Korean War veteran repairs small appliances at the Durham Rescue Mission. Psychological problems after the war put Blake out on the street. Without the mission, he would still be on the street.

"They've been awful good to me here," said Blake. "They've changed my way of thinking."

Durham Rescue Mission director Ernie Mills has taken scores of veterans in off the street. He says they all suffer from psychological scars.

Mills says they have "scars that they'll carry with them the rest of their lives. A lot of times I think that's causing the drinking and the drugs, because they're trying to cover up and forget those things that took place in the past."

Some formerly homeless veterans have success stories to tell. Ex-marine Van Hill has worked his way up to become a counselor at the mission.

"Being a young man when I got out of the corps, I felt I could just tackle everything with our society and free enterprise. I thought I was the man," said Hill.

"They trained us how to kill but never trained us how to maintain our lives once we got back," said veteran Steven Scarver. "There's a lot of ghosts and a lot of emotional breakdown."

Scarver is an eloquent speaker and is trying to turn his life around. He made the point so many say is at the heart of this.

Many ex-soldiers say they got lots of training while they served, but there's nothing there to help many of them after they get out.

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Mark Roberts, Reporter
Edward Wilson, Photographer
John Clark, Web Editor

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