Combat Veterans rally for homeless Vets, VA Secretary says he will ask for funding to be restored to "Cottage 16" shelter
The Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association not about to let the planned closure of Veterans Homeless Shelter "Cottage 16" go unnoticed.
It was just a couple of months ago they dropped off donated furniture.
Now comes word that federal funding has been denied.
"It's time people start asking some questions and demanding some answers," said Marine Anthony Winneshiek, whose Trackers Pub in South Milwaukee is serving as organizational hub for those who want to get involved.
Wisconsin Veterans Affairs Secretary Daniel Zimmerman says there has been a reassessment of the Veteran Housing and Recovery Programs after a reduction in Veterans seeking shelter. He says there was a 22% decrease in homelessness among veterans between 20-15 and 2016.
But there's been no indication why the the grant through Veteran Housing and Recovery Program was denied after being granted year after year.
"We asked them to explain to us why our federal grant wasn't approved and all they said is it didn't score high enough," Secretary Zimmerman said Friday.
He also confirmed that he is working the channels at the Federal Secretary of Veterans Affairs office to get them to restore the funding to Cottage 16.
"I do have access to his liaisons and staff to get this reviewed by them."
To hear a longer portion of the Secretary's interview click here
But it's expected the money will run out before any review is complete.
He doesn't want to fill Veterans with false hope and the 19 remaining at Cottage 16 are now being directed elsewhere.
"I don't feel let down by the country. I feel let down by the system," Kelly Manderfield, Cottage 16 Resident, told CBS 58 News. "The personnel at Cottage 16 and Veterans Administration in Milwaukee are wonderful. Unfortunately the system has to many problems."
Problems that some fear could get worse.
Cottage 16 offers more than housing and includes help for those with addiction challenges and PTSD.
That's what's got Mario Rodriguez of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association so concerned.
"How does this effect the average rate of suicide? What does it do for that rate."
Secretary Zimmerman says he will personally see to it that all the Veterans who rely on Cottage 16 for help find the other services necessary to maintain the help they've already received.
But the Veterans are asking the public to help them make some noise by calling local lawmakers and speaking out against the cuts.
"That's the only thing we can do to continue to fight for these Veterans," said Steven Jensen the CVMA 45-1 Chapter Commander. "They fought for all of our rights that we have today."
Veteran Daniel Newberry who started 22 Fitness with a special exercise program designed to help Veterans with PTSD says he's disgusted by the whole thing.
"The government's not going to do it for you," Newberry concluded. "So, we have to do it for ourselves."
On August 26th he plans to a 22 mile walk with full military packs in memory of the estimated 22 Veterans who take their own lives each day.
Proceeds will be going towards homeless Veterans.
For more information click here