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Help available for homeless veterans

When the Veterans Affairs (VA) Outpatient Clinic in Alexandria continued to turn away homeless veterans in need of a place to stay, VFW Auxiliary members offered their assistance.

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Though the VA couldn’t accept a monetary donation, they knew someone who may be able to help.

Ray Kallstrom, department head of Douglas County Veteran’s Service, accepted a $665 donation from the VFW Auxiliary that will be used for housing homeless veterans until they can be transported to St. Cloud for further assistance.

At last week’s Douglas County Board meeting, Kallstrom talked about the homeless veteran situation in the county and what is being done to address it.

Kallstrom’s office helps transport homeless veterans to the Department of Veterans Affairs in St. Cloud. The van travels on odd numbered days, causing issues when homeless veterans show up on an even day or when the van is already en route.

Through the Skyline Motel, veterans who are directed by staff at the VA or in Kallstrom’s office will be able to spend a night or two until the transportation is available.

Kallstrom received an additional $224 from the Junior Unit of the Alexandria VFW Post 936 last month. There are now enough resources for up to 12 nights of stay, though there has yet to be a need for them.

“The VA said it usually comes in streaks,” Kallstrom said. “We can have nothing for six months and then have two to four at one time.”

The money is used for emergency situations after all other available options have been offered or exhausted.

Kallstrom’s department has other resources from both the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs and the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans to help aid veterans who wish to stay in Douglas County.

Annie Harman
Annie Harman is a reporter for Echo Press and The Osakis Review. She grew up in Detroit Lakes and graduated from the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire with a degree in print journalism and history in May 2012. Follow her on Twitter at annieharman
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