Monday, September 15, 2008

Disabled Veteran struggles to find shelter

Joe Orso: Veteran struggles to find shelter
La Crosse Tribune - La Crosse,WI,USA
By Joe Orso

Ron Fordyce did two tours in Vietnam and one in the first war in Iraq.He joined the Army as a teenager, retired after Iraq and is now 64 years old. In the past months, he has slept in motels, in a Laundromat bathroom, at The Salvation Army of La Crosse and outside in the rain.Ron doesn’t want our sympathy, though.“I want to make it clear that Vietnam vets do not have it any rougher than a Korean veteran does and a World War II veteran does,” he said.

But Ron also knows the statistics: Vietnam-era veterans suffer far more homelessness than other veterans.“I don’t know why,” Ron said. “Maybe it’s a lot their own fault. Maybe it’s not.”I met Ron through Jerry Vettrus, Ron’s former landlord in Sparta.

From 1980 until July 1, Jerry, 62, ran a rooming house at 423 South Water St., where 11 men, seven of them veterans, lived until July 1. That’s when a neighboring home for the elderly took over the property.The tenants had 90 days to find new homes. All of them found a place but Ron, so Jerry was giving Ron lifts and trying to help him find a place when we met a couple weeks ago.
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