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VA Couldn't Help This Homeless Vet With Disabilities, So A Bunch Of Strangers Stepped In Instead

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When Lonnie Whitfield, a homeless veteran with disabilities, learned that he would have to continue living out of his car because the VA couldn’t help him, he pretty much lost hope.

But after hearing his story, a bunch of strangers refused to give up on him.

Whitfield, who has several mental health disorders, initially approached the Memphis VA for assistance, but was told it had run out of housing vouchers and to come back later in the summer, WREG reported.

The news station was soon flooded with requests to help. But Kim Caliendo, a Florida real estate broker who was once homeless, has already set into motion a plan to get Whitfield into stable housing.

She called Whitfield and told the incredulous father of two that she would use her connections to help him secure a place rent-free for one year and some money to buy furniture, according to WREG.

Caliendo wasn’t the only one who was inspired by Whitfield to step in.

Whitfield's story inspired James Knowles, another Memphis native, to launch the Love Project. The group will work with a network of hotels and restaurants to offer vouchers to vets in need, WREG reported.

Though veteran homelessness is on the decline, such selfless initiatives come at a time when experts doubt the VA’s ability to put an end to the crisis by next year’s deadline.

According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), veteran homelessness dropped 24 percent between 2010 and 2013.

Still, on a given night, 57,849 veterans don’t have a roof over their heads, HUD reported after conducting its point-in-time count last January.

While the VA expects to put an end to vet homelessness by 2015, experts aren’t so sure that’s possible.

"Just because the VA says it's over, doesn't mean it is," Steve Peck, president of the U.S. Veterans Initiative, told Military.com back in April. "We're still seeing plenty of need."

Now that so many people have come to his aid, Whitfield has vowed to help get a little bit closer to the time when no vets will be living on the street.

"I’ve been given this chance," Whitfield told WGER. "I’m going to be sure to help someone else along down the line. We all can do more. We all can make America a little bit better."

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