SAN ANTONIO – They served our country, only to end up on our city's streets. The goal is to end veteran homelessness in San Antonio and the city is waiting to see whether it has officially reached the goal. It's all up to a federal agency tracking homelessness, that is now reviewing the city's data before San Antonio declares an end to veteran homelessness.
"It's the little things that make it all good. Nice fresh breeze in the morning. Get your day started off," said U.S. Army veteran Scott Barnes Jr.
As he walked around his apartment, those little things became big things. He has a comfortable place to sleep each night.
"Here's my bedroom, brand new bed," he said showing off his room.
He has a full kitchen.
"It's brand new, and wonderful. There's dinner defrosting in the sink!"
These truly are big things, considering he's called the street his home for the past four years.
"I had a hard time adjusting, a lot of personal issues I let get in my way. I refused help. I had to get over the pain," Barnes said.
He finally realized it was OK to ask for help when Family Endeavors case workers contacted him just two months ago. They're part of the city's initiative to end veteran homelessness, funded by USAA.
Barnes went through an interview process and within one month, was placed in an apartment.
"Now I can call my mom and say I got my own place and everything. She's like yeah? Yeah, which hotel are you at? And I'm like, actually I'm in an apartment! So, feels good," he said smiling.
USAA paid for his furniture, and is also covering rent and utilities for the next six months. By then, Barnes is confident he'll have a job. He put his telecommunication skills on a resume, and already has multiple offers.
"That's one of the biggest freedoms that's offered. Just having a choice, being picky. When you're on the streets you take whatever's offered to you and work with what you have. It gives you the option of what's going to better me? Not what's going to sustain me for the next foreseeable future," he said.
Now, he's making the choice to keep moving forward and get back to the hero he's been all along.
Each veteran housed in the Family Endeavors program has access to what's called an Army Navigator, someone who the veteran can always call if they need access to resources, or even a ride to a job interview or the job bank. The point is to make sure they know they're not alone, and they don't fall back into homelessness.