FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – When the city of Fort Lauderdale abruptly cleared dozens of homeless people out of Stranahan Park earlier this month, two of those displaced were homeless veterans Trinidad DeLeon and Michael Rayburn.
“We're distraught,” DeLeon said. “We're confused.”
Added Rayburn, “All of the sudden, they came in and started bulldozing.”
For Greg Crompton, veteran homelessness is a personal issue.
The Army veteran, who is recently homeless, spent Monday trying to raise awareness among the revelers at Fort Lauderdale Beach for those who served.
“I want to see all veterans being treated fairly and the sacrifices they made to be honored -- that's all,” Crompton said.
But Lorraine Wilby, CEO of the Task Force Fore Ending Homelessness, said federal programs under President Barack Obama drastically reduced the problem over the past few years.
“As of last month, (the) number was 434 veterans in Broward County (who) were off the street and into their own apartment,” Wilby said.
Despite the strides, Wilby said, there are still about 130 homeless vets on the streets currently.
At St. Christopher’s Church in Fort Lauderdale, Pamela Newman spoke with Local 10. Newman, a U.S. Army veteran, has been living in a car with her husband, John, for about three years.
Her seven-year career ended when she was accidentally shot in her foot.
“Do you think America is taking care of its veterans well enough?” a reporter asked.
Said Newman, “No, because a lot of us are sleeping on the streets.”
Newman said she hopes to get housing soon after getting a veteran’s voucher recently.
Her husband said it’s something she deeply deserves.
“They say they’re going to get all the vets off the street,” John Newman said. “They’re not. She’s right there. If that’s the best we can do for our vets, this country needs to cry.”
Wilby said she’s concerned that major cuts in President Donald Trump’s proposed budget could negatively affect homeless veterans, but that has yet to be seen.