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Shelter For Homeless Veterans Opening In Terre Haute
Updated August 14, 2017 9:04 AM
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(TERRE HAUTE) - Reach Veteran Services of Terre Haute is opening a first-of-its-kind homeless shelter for veterans that aims to address root causes of chronic homelessness.

The Stevean Blade Memorial Shelter will open Sept. 1 at 621 Poplar St. and will be able to house either two homeless veterans in need of intense counseling or a veteran and his/her family in need of the same services.

Martina Butler-Hull, a veteran services coordinator with Reach, said the veterans they bring in will get everyday, hands-on attention that will hopefully instill confidence and pride.

"Whatever your issue is, whether you have PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), or whether you have some drug and alcohol abuse issues, or if you've been on the street so long you've forgot how to live in a stable housing environment, we're going to teach you that," Butler-Hull said.

"If we have to take you back to basics and teach you how to boil water, we're here for that. If you need help with some resume writing or need clothes for an interview, or whatever it is the veteran needs when they get here, we're going to do some assessments and give them that before they leave here."

The shelter currently consists of a single apartment that can house a pair of veterans in separate rooms. The two will share a common kitchen, living room and bathroom.

Butler-Hull said the goal of the shelter is to address the issues causing the resident veterans to be homeless and help them become self-sufficient once again.

"We want to do sort of a catch and release and put them through a six-month program that address whatever issues that veteran has to cause them to be homeless," Butler-Hull said.

"Whether that's a lack of education, not having finished their GED or high school equivalency, we have partnered with the library to offer that education to improve their employability."

Butler-Hull said the shelter is named after Stevean Blade, a Terre Haute veteran who sought help from veteran services some years ago and heeded the advice of his counselors, eventually rediscovering the pride and confidence he once exuded as a member of the armed forces.

"Stevean was our first real graduate to go from one of our shelters to the duplexes on 14th and Hulman," Butler Hull said.

Before seeking help, Blade was staying with his uncle who was eventually placed in a nursing facility. With nowhere to turn, Blade found help with local veteran services.

Butler-Hull remembers Blade spent around three months in a shelter before spending about a year in the Reach duplexes.

"He then rekindled a romance and moved down to Florida, and went to bed one night and didn't wake up," Butler-Hull said. "He was always such an inspiration to me because he was the first person to come and graduate and be self-sufficient and was just happy.

"I reached out to his son and he gave us permission to call it the Stevean Blade Memorial Shelter. We're very excited to open it up and am hoping we have the same kind of success with every veteran that we had with Stevean."

Butler-Hull, a Marine Corps veteran, said there has been great need for a veteran-centric shelter in Terre Haute for some time. Public support since Reach's announcement went live over Facebook Wednesday afternoon has been overwhelming.

"We just went live (Wednesday night) and the community has really just come out and we have more likes, shares and comments on this post than we've ever had," Butler-Hull said. "There is a lot of community backing and a lot of people in the community who realize we need something like this."

And while the shelter is comprised of just one apartment right now, Butler-Hull said that with positive results and the community's help, they are ready and willing to expand when the time comes.

"As the services and the funding comes in, we would love to expand the shelter down the road," Butler-Hull said. "If we can pilot this program and find somewhere where our offices and the shelter can move to together and grow, then that would obviously be an option."

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