The Vietnam Vet Who Pulled It Together At This Silicon Valley Homeless Shelter

This story is a part of Business Insider’s “
Homeless In Silicon Valley” series reported by Robert Johnson and edited by Chris C. Anderson. Jill Klausen and graphic designer Mike Nudelman contributed to this series.

When Ed was discharged from the Army in 1975 he had a difficult time finding his place in civilian life. Only after spending time in prison did he find his way here to the Boccardo Regional Reception Center in San Jose and finally put his life back on the right track.

“My youngest granddaughter told me I’m not doing anything and I should be in school,” Ed says. “So I’m taking business classes at a community college while I work my way out of here.”

The room Ed shares with another veteran is unlike the rest of the shelter: The pair can come and go as they please, and the room opens onto a manicured courtyard with a patio set, weight bench, garden, and a gated wall that only vets and staff have a key to open.

“This has been home for nearly two years,” Ed says. “But I’m ready to move on. No way I could have done this without the help they’ve given me.”

He nods at the two women from the shelter providing us the tour. They smile and shake their heads. “No Ed,” one of them says. “This was all you.”

Ed was in the Vietnam conflict during his stint in the Army and was discharged nearly 40 years ago.

The Department of Veterans Affairs provides EHC Lifebuilders in San Jose with funds for rooms like this for Ed and other vets for up to two years.

The vets are assigned case workers who help them outline their goals, find employment, and prepare for the future.

Ed gave his granddaughter some money to go to a concert and the girl picked up this patch for him while she was there. “I can’t wait to have a place of my own for my family to visit,” he says.

See our full report on the Silicon Valley homeless problem.

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