Homeless Senior Veteran Gains New Life with Permanent Housing

Donald Horne, VEO Hero and Army Veteran was one of the first clients to move into the VEO Senior Village Building backed by a J.B. Campbell Foundation Grant. The housing serves a growing number of homeless veterans age 65+ with a Permanent Supportive Housing model. We caught up with the 80-year old Vietnam Army Veteran to hear about his journey from homeless to safe housing and what he most looks forward to.

5 Questions for a Senior VEO Hero and Army Veteran, Donald Horne

Q. What was your journey from homeless to VEO housing?

A divorce in the late 1980’s led to my drinking, drugs, depression and homelessness. You’d never believe that I use to be an outreach minister in a Baptist church in Dallas. I would preach with my wife and twin daughters sitting in the pews. We owned a $245,000 house. When we get divorced, my wife took the girls. I hardly got to see them. Then my mother and daddy died. I gave up on life and ended up with nothing — literarily on the street. I was living in bus stations and airports. I didn’t know how to get my benefits. I had no transportation except my feet.

Q. How did you find Veteran’s Empowerment Organization (VEO)?

I have emphysema and osteoporosis. So, I was at the VA clinic. They contacted VEO and found an open bed for me.

Q. What makes VEO and the Senior Village Building a good place to live?

This building is very respectable and I feel like I’m in my own house. I cook my own meals in the kitchen. The furniture is nice. I really like the window view above the air conditioning unit. Best of all, I feel secure here.

Q. Tell us about your service in the military?

Like so many folks in this building, I served in Vietnam. I was drafted out of Dalton Junior College. I went through basic training at Fort Benning and advanced training at Fort Bragg — then to Vietnam. The Army needed a communication guy with the troops to radio in helicopters. I had a top-secret clearance and was a radio operator in the field in the middle of the fighting. I went over as a private and came home a sergeant after 18 months.

Q. How would you describe VEO to those who have never heard of the organization?

Everyone on the VEO staff cares as much about me as they do family. Mr. Fortune tells me ‘thank you for your service.’ He believes what he says about veterans. When you think that life is over and there’s nowhere to go — there is VEO. I’m happy here.

Q. What do you most look forward to?

I look forward to watching Calvin Ridley catch his next pass! When he came to VEO, I got a picture taken with him. Seriously, I just want to live the rest of my life in peace. VEO has been very good for me. I couldn’t ask for anything better.