EAU CLAIRE, WI (WEAU) - A persisting problem is being battled on stage with songs and sleeping bags. More than 62,000 veterans are homeless in the U.S. according to a count done by the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development. Dan Robinson, director of the Sojourner House said veterans returning home from service have struggled to find jobs, and affordable housing, but much of the battle is no longer fought behind enemy lines, but between their ears.
"This added pressure of the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is overwhelming in trying to deal with being homeless, being without a place to stay, being without a purpose," Robinson said.
With 59 coming through the Sojourner House Homeless Shelter in Eau Claire over the past year and a half, an Owen-Withee family is singing and strumming outlaw bluegrass to change the trend through a shotgun wedding-themed concert.
Members of the band fragile are performing under the name Rosewater at the Heyde Center for the Arts in Chippewa Falls on Mar. 23. The audience is asked to bring wedding gifts in the form of items for homeless vets, like quilts, sleeping bags and coats.
"It's just something we want to be rid of completely, and if we can be a small part of that, it's worth it," guitarist Chauncey Marrier said."The idea that the phrase homeless vet even exists is pretty sad. After everything they've done for us and the whole country ... It's a no-brainer that something has to be done," he said.
With more than 5,000 winter items raised so far going to the Help a Vet program and the Hands Foundation, the Marriers said it's proof that their efforts are making a difference.
"I'm very proud of what we've been able to do, but at the same time, there's a lot of work left to do, and we're going to keep doing it until we can get it done," Darrell Marrier said.
For more information on the event and cause, go to http://www.handsfoundation.com/ or http://www.cvca.net/events.php.
For information on how to help the Sojourner House, go to http://www.cclse.org/sojournerhouse.php