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Long Island nonprofit delivering supplies to Vermont veterans

Published: Oct. 31, 2021 at 11:44 PM EDT
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NORTHFIELD, Vt. (WCAX) - As of January 2020, 71 Vermont veterans were experiencing homelessness. Now, one group is giving back to those who have served.

West McMillan is a U.S. Navy veteran. He says he’s struggled with substance use.

“I hit rock bottom with my drug addiction. I knew that if I didn’t get the right help, I wasn’t going to be just a veteran, I was going to be a veteran with a gravestone,” McMillan said.

U.S. Army veteran Joseph Fulcher says he was hesitant to ask for help.

“I wouldn’t go to the VA because I thought I didn’t deserve it. To me, it was for people who got hurt in war, and I didn’t do that. I’ve learned now that I earned that right,” Fulcher said.

The two men live at the Veterans’ Place in Northfield, one of four transitional housing programs for Vermont veterans.

General Needs, a nonprofit out of Long Island, New York, will travel to Vermont on Monday to deliver goods like boots and socks to this facility.

It’s just one stop for the group this month taking a 1,600-mile supply trip between Maine and Washington, D.C. Their mission is to provide homeless veterans with clothing, footwear, toiletries and gear. Lonnie Sherman founded the organization.

“We’re going to deliver 1,342 pairs of boots from Maine to Washington, D.C., representing each vet that will take their own life from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31,” Sherman said.

According to the Military Veteran Project, 22 veterans die by suicide each day.

Karen Boyce, managing director of the Veterans’ Place, says she works to ensure veterans like Fulcher and McMillan are supported.

“All of us are interacting with one of the guys in the house. It takes understanding and compassion,” Boyce said.

Sherman says supporting veterans is what General Needs is all about.

“It’s really kind of cool. I’m really proud of everybody we work with of really trying to take a back step of trying to make a difference in the world,” Sherman said.

As for Fulcher and McMillan, this help goes a long way.

“It makes us appreciate who we are, so we can appreciate other people for who they are,” McMillan said. “It could mean the difference between life and death for a lot of guys.”

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