Vet finds sanctuary in Minneapolis

There is a “Go Away” mat at the entrance to Wade’s home.

“It was a gift,” he laughs. “Come on in!”

Wade is a veteran—one of the hundreds of homeless vets we have pledged, as a community and as a state, to get off the streets and into homes by 2017.

Wade joined the Army in 1984, enlisting to help fund his education at University of Minnesota-Duluth. He now lives in a quiet apartment above a pizza parlor, in the Longfellow neighborhood of Minneapolis.

Wade’s apartment contains few possessions. A black hat emblazoned with “Iraq War Vet” hangs in the corner. It is an homage to his brother Lee, who died in the line of duty. There is a framed picture of Pope Francis, two plastic tubs stacked on top of each other, a table with a faded blue tablecloth.

“I love it here,” he said. “I’ve got a sense of pride again. It’s nice to have a place to lay your head.”

For years, Wade lived in a house with his mother. When she had a stroke, it started a cycle of events that led to her living in a nursing home, and the loss of their family home along with most of their possessions.

Wade hopped from couch to couch, stayed at a buddy’s cabin for a while, and then stayed in shelters when his other options ran out.

At Higher Ground Minneapolis, Wade was given a safe place to sleep and access to resources.

“That was really tough in the winter. You get out of the shelter and you have nine to ten hours to kill,” he said.

Diagnosed with cancer, it was easier on Wade’s body if he stayed inside. He spent those cold days at the library.

Wade was able to meet with John Robertson. It is Robertson’s job at Catholic Charities to find housing and end homelessness for veterans. Once the two men connected, positive things started to happen for Wade.

“John has bent over backwards for me and it’s great,” Wade said. “My stress is greatly reduced since I moved in here.”

Now that he’s in an apartment, Wade can focus on his health.

“I really needed a place to recover before I could have my surgery,” he said. “It’s been really painful and some days I don’t even seem like moving.”

While some days it is difficult to move his body, Wade is moving forward toward health and independence.

“Basically, Catholic Charities changed my life. It got me off the streets, got me a roof over my head back in my old neighborhood, and got me almost back to normal,” he said.