KARM hosts special night for homeless veterans

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) Knox Area Rescue Ministries held a special night to serve and honor the homeless veterans who have served our country.

According to data from the National Alliance to End Homelessness, Tennessee has roughly 1,600 veterans who sleep on the streets on any given night.

The folks at KARM wanted to at least pay special tribute to East Tennessee's homeless veterans by serving them with a warm meal and honoring them at a special ceremony Monday evening.

"It's just a great opportunity to kind of take a time out and say, we really want to recognize what you've done for us. We appreciate that, and show them a lot of respect and honor that they deserve," KARM Volunteer Coordinator Elliott Barnett said.

There was also a time of singing songs like 'The National Anthem' and 'God Bless America'.

Then there was the chance for any veteran to stand up and be recognized for their service. Every branch of the military was represented and every veteran was given a pin of the American flag during the ceremony.

The veterans were also given a standing ovation at the end of the evening.

Army veteran Tonya Franklin was moved to tears, even before the ceremony began.

"It's real heartfelt. We really appreciate what ya'll have done for us veterans tonight," Franklin said.

Other veterans showed up to help serve the veterans who don't have a home. Dan Troiano is a Marine vet who wanted to help out his fellow servicemen and women, by serving them dinner.

"It's probably one of the biggest days for me," Troiano explained about Veteran's Day. "It's a tribute, not only to serve, but to help the others now that are coming back and need help."

According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness website, nationwide veteran homelessness has dropped in recent years. It now stands at about 7%.

In Tennessee, the homeless rate increased by 33% in from 2011 to 2012.

To learn more about veteran homelessness and how you can help, log onto Endhomelessness.org.

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