David, Homeless Vietnam Veteran

Please meet David....... David is a Vietnam Veteran that has been living in a cold, wet, urine saturated tent in Leesville, Louisiana for the past year. My Mom, Lucy Valentine and I, Delia Cajas, have been working relentlessly since January 1, 2014 to help this War Hero get shelter, meals, and appeal his claim for VA Benefits.   

David is a victim of those Military Records that were damaged/destroyed in that infamous fire that ruined hundreds of Military Records.  Due to him not having a copy of his military files, he has been denied benefits because VA does not have ALL the records needed to make a correct determination in favor of David.  (Even though he has provided a personal copy of his DD214 that reflects a Honorable discharge)

I met David on New Years Day, I was volunteering at a local shelter that is in the process of opening, when they brought him in from the cold to eat a New Years Day meal and to get a hair cut and a much needed bath.  David was weak, starving and feeling completely hopeless.  I sat and talked with David as he told me about his war stories, I had such respect for this man and couldn't believe the unfortunate circumstances that surrounded him.
Later that evening, my Mom and I were responsible for taking David back to his tent as the shelter could not house any homeless men due to renovations that needed to be completed to officially open it's doors.  We drove David back to his tent that was located behind a gas station's dumpster.  Once we saw the horrible conditions that David was going back to, and the freezing cold temperatures he would have to endure during this cold cold winter, I simply could not leave him there.  I, as a woman, an Army Veteran myself and just a human being, I just could not leave him there and walk away.  This tent was filled with trash, soiled blankets, urine saturated clothes on top of a urine saturated mattress, it was horrible.  I could not believe that he was once a War Hero and now he's treated like a throw away.  After seeing this, my Mom and I could not leave him there so we brought him back and found a temporary place for him to stay for the next few nights. 

A few days later, David was taken to a Salvation Army located in Alexandria, LA.  He was allowed to stay there for a week or so without having to pay.  Unfortunately, while David was there, he became really sick and had to be taken to the Emergency Room. 

David was in the hospital for one week because he had a lung infection, Congestive Heart Failure and COPD.  David was admitted to the hospital at a whopping 114 lbs. (he now weighs 170 lbs)  While David was at Beauregard Memorial Hospital, he was taken really good care of. 

Once David was released, we raised some money for his medication and he was able to get better and begin his journey to a more healthier David. 

During David's hospital stay, we heard about a family in Rosepine, LA that was looking for a Homeless Veteran to house for free, in a camper, because they wanted to give back to the community by taking care of a Veteran. 

Because of the unusual winter weather conditions, the camper could not be moved and David's move in date was becoming further and further away.  It seemed like there were excuses after excuses as to why David could not move in.  Eventually, that family changed their minds. 

In the meantime, we went to DeRidder Housing Authority to get David on the waiting list.  (We should hear something within 6 months to 1 year)

We also went to Social Security to apply for SSI because David is too weak to walk on his own and can hardly breathe.  (we should hear something within 4 months)

We were able to find David a home for the next few weeks with a military family but the time came when they had to leave and David was once again out on the streets. 

As hard as we may have tried, we could not get anyone to house David.  The time came when we had to take David back to his lonely, cold, unwelcoming, wet tent,  on a day when it was absolutely horrible outside; we were expecting freezing cold rain and below freezing temperatures over night.  David tried his best to convince me that he could handle it, but I knew better.  I felt absolutely horrible leaving this Vietnam Veteran on the streets  but at this point, I had NO OTHER OPTIONS. 

The following night, I received a call from a tearful David, he was too cold and the temperature was only getting worse.   David said he could not take the cold any longer so my mom and I immediately got into my vehicle and drove out to Leesville to pick him up.  I took David to a nearby motel called Redwood Motel in Leesville, LA where they charged us $50.75 a night.  I paid for two nights with hopes that I can get help from the community to help keep him off the streets and out of the cold a few more nights. 

My Mom and I have posted on Facebook, made posters, begged the community to help, but we cannot get them to participate much less donate money for extra nights for David.  We were able to get one of our friends to donate $50.00 to allow David to stay one more night at the motel but after that, David goes back to his tent behind the dumpster. 

I am here begging you for help, by asking for cash donations to pay for David's stay at either this motel or any other motel/hotel that is reasonably priced.  

Again, David has COPD, Congestive Heart Failure, and an unbalanced equilibrium. He also suffers from malnutrition. His social security benefits have recently been approved, but they do not start until July 2014. 

We are asking for cash donations to keep David in a motel/hotel ($50.75/night or $295.00/week), whichever you prefer, of course every bit helps. He was put in a motel for a few days, but his options have been exhausted, and he will be forced to return to his tent behind a dumpster.  Please help this Vietnam Veteran, he deserves so much better than this.
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Delia N Juan Cajas 
DeRidder, LA
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