Houston home serving 100 veterans in need of new wheels

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Navy nurse Barbara Barker shows off where she stays at The De George at Union Station, where 100 veterans call home. (KTRK)

At the corner of Preston and La Branch in downtown Houston is an old hotel revamped into a veteran's housing facility.

Inside The De George at Union Station, 100 servicemen and women down on their luck are given another chance.

"It just changed my whole life around," said Jerry Buckley, who joined the Marines shortly after the Vietnam War.

Although Buckley never deployed, he said he still found life after service difficult.

"It's not hard because when you come out you don't really trust anybody, you try to do it on your own, and a lot of us make that mistake trying to do on our own and we slip," Buckley said.

Navy vet Melvin Mason says after his discharge, he fell in with the wrong crowd and followed the wrong path. He wound up living on the streets.

"And I've been blessed to not be up under the bridge right now today," Mason said.

The De George is now their home.

It is permanent housing with no time-limit, giving these vets for first time in years, peace of mind, stability and an address.

"This is my room," said Navy nurse Barbara Barker as she gave Eyewitness News a look inside her new home.

"I spent three days in a homeless shelter and then I got here through the VA, and I love it here," Barker said.

Each veteran pays rent and lives independently, but can attend programs to help them reintegrate.

"Before I got here, I was on anti-depressant medicine and when I got here I went off my anti-depressant medicine," said Barker. "I took a class that teaches you how to de-stress and it's helped me a lot."

The De George opened in 2001 and has helped change the lives of hundreds of homeless veterans who find themselves on the streets of Houston.

Now, the organization that has given help to so many is in need of aid itself.

"It's on its very last legs," said Norm Humphrey, a volunteer who described the van used to get the veterans around town. "It's a crucial part of this organization because it takes the veterans to the doctors, to interviews for jobs, it gets them back into life again."

The 18-year-old van has new tires, but that's about all. The seats are ripped and the engine is worn.

If you would like to help, please contact community director Lynda Greene at (713) 224-1418.

They are always looking for donations of new bedding, new twin mattresses, new mini refrigerators and new shower curtains.
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