On Wednesday, the Niagara Gospel Mission invited local government leaders, veterans organizations, community groups, pastors, law enforcement and military members to take place in its first symposium on homelessness, with an emphasis on the homeless veterans in Niagara Falls, and the difficulties transitioning out of the military.
Speakers from different eras of warfighting talked about how the reception of soldiers had changed from Vietnam to now.
“We went and fought for our country and, when we got home, we got treated like the enemy by our fellow citizens and the government,” veteran and Town of Wheatfield Supervisor Don MacSwan said. “I isolated and only wanted to hang out with other Vietnam veterans after that.”
The main speaker was Joel Smith, the director of psychological health for the 914th Air Refueling Wing.
He said, “Your veteran is different after war, and that’s OK. The veterans that come to the Niagara Gospel Mission – just like any other veteran – are not broke; they don’t need you to fix them; they just need to be heard and understood.”
Niagara Gospel Mission Director of Development John Cooper Jr. said, “The Niagara Gospel Mission is proud to host this event and bring everyone together for the purpose of helping veterans. We will not solve veteran homelessness by ourselves, we want and need the support of the community.”