Mayor Megan Barry was joined by two veterans as she walked in the Nashville Veterans Day parade on Friday, not only marching to honor veterans, but to raise awareness and call for change when it comes to veteran homelessness.
"We really, truly believe that the folks who have served our country need to have the ability to come back and live with dignity," Barry said prior to the parade.
The two veterans who joined Barry were Emilio Hughes and Randall Gooch, who both served the United States in the armed forces, and both ended up homeless in the streets of Nashville at some point during their lives.
"It's a challenge to find decent housing in a growing city," Hughes said of the housing issues for veterans in Nashville.
Hughes served in the Navy during September 11th and during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He returned to Nashville in 2004 after completing his service, and for years, he spent time in and out of homelessness.
Recently, Hughes and Gooch both were able to get permanent housing thanks to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Metro.
The two were able to get subsidized housing through Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing vouchers, and they have hoped that more landlords will be willing to accept the vouchers so other veterans can move off the streets.
"I hate to use the term, but there's a crisis amongst veterans who are dealing with not only homelessness, but mental illness and other challenges," Hughes explained.
Mayor Barry has hoped that by raising awareness, talking about the issue, and providing more housing options, the veteran homeless issue in Nashville can be solved.
"My appeal is to the landlords out there. These are great tenants. If you've got housing, we want to talk with you so we can put more veterans in housing," Barry said.
Landlords interested in accepting housing vouchers should contact Shukiesha Thompson at MDHA at firstname.lastname@example.org or 615-252-6505.