From One Veteran To Another: Homelessness Affects More Than “The Homeless”

On Jan 15, OIM launches a NEW Innercity Veterans Outreach & Support Service (DETAILS BELOW).

Over the coming weeks and months, we will be sharing veteran and volunteer perspectives on the issues facing our homeless and at-risk veterans. Today’s blog post comes from long-time OIM Volunteer and Retired Corporal, Ken Byars.

homelessveteran1500.pngA number of years ago I had traveled to visit a good friend and brother in arms who had served a number of years in the US military. We had grown quite close over the years and I thought the bond we had built was a strong one.

On a cold wet afternoon we were driving around reliving old times when we passed a homeless man panhandling in the rain. I made him circle back around so I could put some money in his can.

That’s when John dropped a bombshell on me.

A couple of years previous he had been homeless for over a year living in Veterans Shelters, and couch surfing. He had lost everything. He cut me to the bone, it was like someone had cut my heart out and we were both in tears. I looked at him and said “You know that whatever I have is yours; it isn’t much, but I would have done everything I could have to help you. I would have sold my bike if I had to.”

His answer was, “I know. That’s why I didn’t tell you; that and I was too ashamed to tell you I was living on the street.”

He hid it well, every time I called, we talked on his cell phone, he never let on he was in a shelter or sleeping on a bench. My brother, after 27 years of faithful service to his country, was reduced to living on the streets. It hurt me more to see the pain and shame in his eyes than the reasons for him not wanting to tell me.

Homelessness affects more than those on the street, it affects those that love them, and their extended families.

~Ken Byars, OIM Volunteer


If you are a homeless or at-risk veteran, or know someone who is, you are welcome to attend OIM’s,


Wednesdays, 10 to 11:30 am

OIM Office,  391 Gladstone Ave.

We offer a safe community and one-on-one support in a welcoming environment.

Available services:

Access to resources & literature

Access to phone & computer

Individualized support

Recreational activities

Refreshments & more

For more information:

Contact Rick at or call our office at (613)237-6031



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