By Art Holliday
St. Louis (KSDK) - For the second year in a row, St. Patrick Center received a $956,000 federal grant to assist homeless military veterans and their families.
Thanks to the grant, one Vietnam War veteran is grateful for his brand new apartment.
Larry Hampton is a veteran of the military, and of homeless shelters. He gave NewsChannel 5 a tour of the apartment he moved into eight days ago. In his words, having your own place is paramount.
Sheet music and guitars are clues that a music fan lives here.
"I used to have hostility problems. Just sit back and listen to a good song. How can you beat people up?" said Hampton.
By the late 1990s Hampton was struggling and homeless for the first time.
About 1997 I was having real problems with the drug thing, drugs and alcohol thing," he said.
Earlier this year he had a medical emergency.
"Two weeks in the hospital, and I almost died and they were setting me up for hospice," he said.
Once out of the hospital, Hampton received help from the Veteran Families Program at the St. Patrick Center.
"We look at what's gone wrong and what's led to this situation, and then together with the client we try to create a plan on how we can change it and keep them stably housed long-term," said Angela Snider, a resource counselor.
There's an ambitious national campaign underway by the government, local agencies, and non-profits like St. Patrick Center, to help former military personnel who are struggling. That's how Hampton wound up living in his apartment.
"More than 30 percent of people who came back from combat were homeless and I know this grant is really going to help reduce that number and already has significantly," said Tom Etling.
"Having your own place is paramount in your success rate," said Hampton.
This year nearly $100 million in grants were awarded to non-profit community organizations, including the $956,000 grant to St. Patrick Center. Nationally, an estimated 42,000 veterans and their families will receive help with permanent housing.