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Swords to Plowshares helps veterans get back on their feet – Oakland, California

Oakland, California 2020-11-26 09:00:00 –

When Shannon Scott’s help finally arrived, a 64-year-old diabetic Vietnamese veteran was almost immobile. Tied to a wheelchair with a broken thigh, he was barely present for weeks in a tent under a bridge on an elevated road in downtown Auckland.

That’s until Swords to Plowshares, a veteran nonprofit, finds him. Worried residents called them to warn them about Scott’s dire situation. Several staff members took immediate action.

“He wasn’t working on the street. He was on dialysis,” said outreach coordinator Dennis Johnson. “When we found him, he was dying. His eyes were yellow and he was in a permanent coma that he couldn’t put together. His energy level was horrifying. . “

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Scott, a tall, skinny man who spills his feet far beyond the footrests of a hospital wheelchair, spoke quietly and cautiously, remembering that he was rescued from the street two months ago. He is now safe with the comfort of an Alameda motel, where he was temporarily staying in favor of a non-profit organization.

“He was like an angel in disguise,” Scott said of the outreach coordinator. “I was the last leg. I could hardly move anymore.”

Scott is just one of the many veterans of Swords to Plowshares each year. Founded in 1974 by Vietnamese veterans, the non-profit organization has offices in Oakland and San Francisco, providing approximately 3,000 veterans annually with services such as housing, legal assistance, employment and training.

This year, the organization is funded by Share the Spirit, an annual holiday campaign to serve the underprivileged population of East Bay. The donations helped 49 nonprofits in Contra Costa and Alameda counties.

Swords to Plowshares will use this grant to buy winter equipment such as thermal socks, ponchos, hats and toiletries to fill 125 backpacks for homeless veterans. Over the past few years, nonprofits have handed out items at holiday luncheons. For this year’s pandemic, the pack will include hand sanitizers, masks, and food delivered to veterans in emergency housing and elsewhere throughout the holiday season.

According to spokeswoman Soo Kim, the group has worked together to find veterans who need a home during a pandemic. She said the organization has so far found an emergency home for more than 52 homeless veterans in East Bay.

“We think it’s important to get them out of the street,” Kim said. “Housing First is the phrase you will hear, opening the door to the care and services they need to be fully human again.”

According to Kim, outreach coordinators regularly visit homeless camps, check referrals, take homeless veterans to some sort of emergency shelter, and later refer them to veterans’ caseworkers. Will help you find a permanent home. We also provide counseling and connect with other services you need.

“Our mission is to heal the wounds of war,” she said. “We strive to provide all the care and services needed to rebuild their lives after they leave the army.”

Scott wasn’t always homeless. After retiring from the US Navy, he engaged in air conditioning and freezing businesses. But then both of his parents died — his mother had cancer — he says he “spinned him”. His girlfriend was later injured in a terrible car accident, leaving him to spend the next few years on the streets.

He recently found a temporary housing through a non-profit organization in East Bay, but then fell into the kitchen and broke his femur. After a trip to the hospital, Scott, who had screws and stitches on his legs, found him no longer able to stay there and returned, he said. He returned to the street because he had no family and nowhere to go.

A diabetic veteran who found a homeless camp near the bridge settled down on cold nights and hungry days. Some bring food, others rely on alcohol. “Something needs to keep me warm,” he said.

Scott tried to keep his dialysis schedule as close as possible, but when he returned, his tent and belongings were gone. So he was almost left in place, he said.

“It was a time when I really didn’t want to be here anymore,” Scott said of his dire situation. “He (Johnson) really helped me.”

After finding Scott, Johnson and another outreach specialist connected him to an emergency home and returned him to dialysis. They also helped him organize the veterans’ paperwork and linked him to the veterans issue for more service.

Due to Scott’s physical challenges, the entire outreach team is working with him, Johnson said, ensuring that experts visit regularly to reach dialysis. He also brought food that Scott brought in the microwave, but they plan to soon bring him into a non-profit diet program.

According to Johnson, after going in and out of dialysis for three weeks, paratransit will be available for appointments and will soon be connected to dental and legal services.

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