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Veterans Day Brings Celebrations, Awareness Of Needs

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The Carolina’s Freedom Foundation will hold its annual Veteran's Day parade Saturday in uptown. But fanfare aside, many veterans face pervasive problems — one of them being homelessness.

But the number of homeless veterans is decreasing in the Charlotte area, says Mecklenburg County's Director of Veteran Affairs Janene McGee. She says the number has dropped from 800 to 280 in the last four years.

“We’ve made huge strides in those numbers, but it is still a problem," McGee said. "Our shelters are full. A lot of our veterans don't want to go to shelters, especially if they have mental health issues."

McGee said the program "Housing our Heroes" has helped decrease the homelessness population among Veterans. The program collaborates with other organizations to identify veterans who are chronically homeless and find them housing options.

Still, McGee said the program can’t completely solve homelessness among veterans.

“I don't think we’ll ever get to the point where we end it completely, because there are some that don't want to," she said. "They would rather be in a secluded place in the woods versus having a roof over their head."

McGee said a little over 50,000 veterans live in Mecklenburg County, making it home to the third largest veteran population in the state.

Saturday's parade begins at 11 a.m. Bands, local JROTC units, antique cars, military units and veterans will march to honor those who have fought and served for the country.