LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — U.S. Vets is giving homeless veterans a second chance at life. On Thursday night, many local heroes were honored at the Mirage in a special celebration ahead of Veteran’s Day.
The organization held its 11th Annual Honoring Those Who Serve benefit dinner.
U.S. Vets has documented a significant decrease in the number of homeless veterans living on the streets in Las Vegas: A 50% drop in the past five years.
“It’s a tragedy that somebody who served in our military has to find themselves homeless on the streets they fought to defend,” said Shalimar Cabrera, the Executive Director of U.S. Vets.
Cabrera recognized several local veterans who’ve changed their lives for the better, like Ana Martinez.
It took Martinez 25 years to talk publicly about what happened to her in the military.
“I was in the army for 27 1/2 years. I retired November of 2018. I was sexually assaulted early in my career and I carried that one for a long time,” Martinez said.
After retiring, Martinez suffered from PTSD. She turned to gambling. U.S. Vets helped her bounce back.
“It’s a great story about not just struggling but also surviving and overcoming what she had been through,” said Cabrera.
Martinez bought a house in April.
“I went from living in a car to 1,400 square feet. I’m still in awe,” said Martinez. “I went from crawling to walking to finally running.”
Now, Martinez is going to UNLV to become a social worker. U.S. Vets has helped more than 13 thousand veterans get jobs.
U.S. Vets plans to open a new Las Vegas campus that will include a wellness clinic in two years.