Disabled, homeless veteran living in car; Memphis VA says it can’t help

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) — A disabled veteran and father is living out of his car, because he said the Memphis VA will not help him.

Lonnie Whitfield was living with a friend, but ran out of options when that person decided to move.

The VA sent WREG a statement explaining the programs they have in place to help people like Whitfield.

They have vouchers for the Department of Housing and Urban Development and VA Supportive Housing Program, or HUD-VASH as it is called.

However, they only had 380 vouchers for the Memphis and Jackson areas, and said they are currently out.

“This is my place, for right now,” disabled Marine veteran Lonnie Whitfield said sadly, motioning to his small car. “I stay between here, and I have a friend’s house that I stay with from time to time…Wash my personal things or whatever.”

The car is not just a way to get from place to place for Whitfield, it is where he is living.

“I lost my place three weeks ago,” he said. “I have two kids that I share custody with, that stay with their mother, because I can’t do anything right now.”

Whitfield is only 28 years old.

He suffers from several mental disorders and said he never expected he would be homeless after receiving an honorable discharge from the military.

“Coming home…it’s been a big slap in the face,” he said. “Veterans don’t get treated too friendly around here.”

Whitfield is trying to get back on his feet.

He is taking accounting courses at a community college and went to the Memphis VA to apply for housing through the HUD-VASH program.

He said he was sent back and forth between VA offices four different times and was finally told they could not do anything for him, “They finally told me then that they don’t have any vouchers…that they haven’t had any in over a year.”

The VA said they do not have any vouchers available now, but hope to have 15 more for the Jackson, Memphis areas later in the summer.

Whitfield insists he is not looking for handouts, just the respect and assistance he feels he and other veterans have earned, “If everyone values their freedom, they should value the people who fought for their freedom.”

The VA said they could not talk about Whitfield’s specific request for help.

They said they do have several other programs available to help homeless vets in the area.

If you would like to reach out to Private First Class Whitfield, email us at news@wreg.com