By Pat Loeb
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Project HOME, this week, will open an exhibit of photographs and a video telling the stories of homeless veterans. The exhibit draws attention to the high rate of homelessness among veterans.
Vince Sangmeister never saw combat, but he believes he contributed to national security during the cold war, when — as a Russian linguist for the Air Force — he was stationed at the Berlin Wall to eavesdrop.
“We used to very jokingly say, ‘Sleep well, America. You’re Air Force is being forever vigilant.’ And, it really felt that way,” says Sangmeister.
But after returning home, a decade of setbacks, illnesses and losses left Sangmeister clinically depressed, unemployed and joining the grim statistics about veterans and homelessness. Sangmeister’s story, though, is ultimately one of triumph.
“Trough the VA and some amazing people I was able to start getting back on my feet,” he says.
That’s why photographer Harvey Finkle wanted to tell the stories of Sangmeister and five other veterans.
“To encourage other people who might be in a desperate situation to understand there is some relief and a positive outcome to it,” Finkle says.
Videographer Mark Lyons finds the stories of these veterans inspirational.
“I’ve heard remarkable stories who have absolutely been brought to their knees and have found a way to fight back,” he says.
The exhibit opens Thursday.