Mother Teresa Veterans Shelter dedicated

The all-male veterans shelter can house up to 16 veterans, but with COVID-19 that number has been reduced.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – A new shelter for veterans is open and looking to combat the issue of veterans experiencing homelessness.

Wednesday, the Mother Teresa Veterans Shelter, run by the Catholic Action Center, was dedicated on-site with a ceremony.

According to Catholic Action Center director Ginny Ramsey, the all-male shelter can house up to 16 veterans at a time. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, that number has been reduced, but Ramsey hopes the shelter will be able to accommodate more veterans as the colder months begin.

Ramsey says the shelter receives veterans experiencing mental health issues like PTSD and substance abuse, but says one of the most universal problems is loneliness.

“It’s a tough world. The biggest thing is loneliness, feeling alone and not being connected. Not knowing there’s a place and people who want to connect and help,” said Ramsey.

Michael Sharp is a U.S. Army veteran, serving from 1992 to 1994 as a specialist. He’s worked as a nursing assistant and in housekeeping since retiring from the Army. After injuring his back, he couldn’t work. For about three weeks, he’s been living at the Mother Teresa Shelter.

“I was staying with some friends for a little bit. But I had to sleep on their couch and that wasn’t too good. A few times I slept in my car and that wasn’t too good either,” said Sharp.

Sharp says problems started after he lost his HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing after not giving the proper month’s notice when he moved from St. James’ Place in Lexington to Elizabethtown.

“I did have HUD-VASH housing…but I lost my HUD-VASH. And now I’m trying to, you know, get with the transitional and get back into an apartment and get my HUD-VASH back again,” said Sharp.

According to veterans advocate and former Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs Heather French Henry, veteran homelessness can happen quickly and unexpectedly.

“It only takes a fraction of a moment or an issue, a co-occurring issue, with substance abuse and PTSD or just an unfortunate situation, that will send these amazing warriors in a downward spiral that they just need help,” said Henry.

According to Sharp, some veterans don’t feel appreciated.

“I guess there’s some stigma. PTSD,some people have that, I don’t particularly suffer from that but, I don’t know, sometimes they don’t appreciate what we did,” said Sharp.

Henry emphasizes that it is important to show support to veterans in the community.

“It’s always good to show veterans that you’re honoring veterans. So sometimes, those veterans that do need help, they recognize that they’re in a friendly community and will be more apt to reach out and let others know they’re experiencing homelessness,” said Henry.

Mother Teresa Veterans Shelter is located behind the Catholic Action Center on Goodwin Drive.

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