Outpouring of support for homeless veteran living out of her van
A homeless veteran living out of her van has received offers of money, employment and places to stay from people in Ottawa and across the country.
“I think it's amazing because I've been trying so hard,” military veteran Diane Claveau told CTV Ottawa. She’d served in the army for eight years but has recently been living out of her van parked in the lot of a big box store.
“It's hard to end up this way, working all your life and ending up like this,” the 56-year-old had previously said.
A day after she shared her story, Claveau feels overwhelmed by the response from Canadians and organizations across the country.
She has received offers of help to write her resume, supplies of food, a place to stay and even potential offers of employment.
“I think I'm going to have a job. And the rent should come soon after. Once I have my first pay cheque, I'll be able to have a place to stay,” Claveau said.
She said having a stable source of income and a roof over her head would mean so much.
“To me, living is getting up in the morning and go to work, have friends, have a life, a place to stay. Now, I'm not living,” she had said previously. “It's the opposite. Sometimes, I feel I'm dying.”
VETS’ GROUP VOLUNTEER: ‘FOR ME, IT'S PAYING IT FORWARD’
One of the groups stepping up to help Claveau is Veterans Emergency Transition Services (VETS) Canada, which aims to ensure that veterans are properly housed.
Every month, the group goes into shelters across the country looking for homeless veterans.
During the winter months, VETS has put Claveau up in an apartment and the group said it would be willing to help her again.
“There's nothing we won't help with to get them back on their feet to make sure they have a successful transition,” the group’s founder Debbie Lowther said. This also includes helping veterans with tracking down a job.
The group said it’s already received a call from a landlord offering to give Claveau a place to stay.
But without referring to her in particular, Lowther said vets have to be willing to get the help they need.
“Our volunteers and staff will work as hard as we can to help [veterans] out of a tough situation but veterans have to be willing to work just as hard,” she said. “And sometimes, there comes a point in time when you realize your volunteers are working harder than the veteran.”
One of the veterans who has benefitted is Robert Praet, who was homeless when he first arrived in Ottawa, but now volunteers with the group.
“For me, it's paying it forward. They helped me, and I'm capable of helping VETS Canada get to the vets who need it,” he said.
Meanwhile, Veterans' Affairs Canada told CTV Ottawa it will work with Claveau to get her the support she needs. But she’s isn’t fully convinced yet, saying, “It's good to hear. And we'll see.”
Latest government data suggest 2,250 veterans use homeless shelters every year.
Although there are no definitive statistics, according to several studies there are an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 homeless veterans across Canada.
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If you are or know any veterans in need of appropriate housing or employment, contact:
- Veterans Affairs Canada through their website,
- VETS Canada online or by phone at 1 888-228-3871 or
- Royal Canadian Legion at 613-591-3335 or toll-free at 1-877-534-4666