MACV adapting to meet homeless Minnesota veterans where they are

MINNEAPOLIS – Veterans need a home for the holidays. That’s why WCCO is working with the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans (MACV) to make the season brighter.

The group is expanding its outreach program to connect veterans with the benefits they have earned for serving in the country.

The teams go through homeless camps, shelters and places where the homeless can gather.

Sunrise signals another trip to a tent city for MACV operations coordinator James McCloden. He goes through it looking for veterans who need help getting out of the cold.

“I see some [battle dress uniform]camouflage,” McCloden said.

He looks around for clues that a military veteran is sleeping here. One man he meets is no veteran, but that doesn’t stop McCloden from associating him with services.

He moves from one camp to another.

“We go to camps, if you don’t find them here, you go and try to find them, like them [Catholic Charities Opportunity Center]Harbor Lights, Higher Ground, all these different places that they’re going to go to here,” McCloden said.

Here, partnerships help MACV meet veterans where they are.

“We created a situation where they have a permanent footprint in the building so we can catch veterans coming through the door,” said Ian Brunzell-Looney of The Salvation Army.

People come to The Salvation Army’s Harbor Lights at different stages of their journey and that’s why working with MACV is so important. A simple question can bring immediate help to veterans.



“When clients walk into the shelter and they go through it like an admission with our attorneys, they’re asked if they’ve served or not,” Brunzell-Looney said.

Veterans may benefit from transitional housing on the fifth floor of Harbor Lights or be referred to MACV. McCloden sometimes finds veterans between his regular assignments.

“So we talked, he said, ‘You’re homeless?’ I said yes.” I said ‘I am’. He said, ‘Wait a minute.’ He pulls out his little laptop and… he asked me questions and I give him the answers. He said, “What do you have?” And I had my bags and he was like, ‘Come on, let’s go,'” Stephanie Hipple said.

She got a place at Snelling Lodge and now calls home in Minnesota.

“I didn’t know about these benefits until I came to Minnesota,” Hipple said. “Without James, without MACV, I don’t know where I would be.”

It is an outreach with heart and desire to bring veterans out of the cold and into a home for the holidays.

You can now support MACV’s mission by donating to our Home for the Holidays campaign. Every dollar counts, and whatever you donate Wednesday will be matched by homebuilder Lennar with up to $100,000.

$40 will help a veteran with a day’s housing assistance and $175 will support a family’s food needs for a week.

Just text MACV to 44321 or go online to wcco.com/holidays to donate.

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