Through an organization called the Volunteers of America, Greater Los Angeles, I was put in touch with a wonderfully giving and dedicated man named Jim Zenner. You may have read about him if you're a dedicated fan of the fabulous LA Times columnist Steve Lopez , like I am.
Jim, an Army Veteran who served in Iraq, had his own struggles after getting out . To make a long and twisting tale short, he battled back, won, and is now helping others with the same things he went through. Depression, Anger, inability to focus, relationship problems, you get the picture. He runs a program in a converted old Hollywood Hotel called the "Hollywood Veterans Center', which is a residential facility for four dozen young men, all Iraq and Afghanistan vets.. who need help with counseling, with medical issues, with job skills, with social skills, the whole spectrum.
A man named Lester Mena shared his story, and told me that at the Center he's getting help networking and reaching out and connecting with everything from job counseling to medical services to V.A. benefits. "It's tough to do it on your own " he said. It seems like a great program, but it's tough, nitty gritty work that goes on 365 and there's not parties on days like Independence Day.
We're doing a story on this today at 5p and again at 10p of the Fox 11 News you should check it out and volunteer or donate if you can. It's making a difference. Combined w/ more Federal dollars flowing ( finally) homelessness among Veterans is down significantly. But there's of course still a long way to go. In passing in the hallway at the Vets Center in Hollywood I asked the routine ‘' How's it going " to one young man walking by. His answer ? "I'm alive ". Kinda depressing but kinda not.
For more information on the program CLICK HERE