Syrian refugees Yazan Al-Salkini, 19, center, and brother Nabil, 14, left, hand out water to the homeless in downtown Seattle.
KUOW photo/Liz Jones

The debate about resettling Syrian refugees has some people asking, “Why don’t we use that money on homeless veterans instead?”

We asked homeless veterans in downtown Seattle what they thought.

Department of Veterans Affairs
Department of Veterans Affairs

The number of VA Puget Sound patients waiting for home health care soared over the space of six months, making the facility’s wait list the second longest in the nation.

That’s according to a report from the Department of Veteran’s Affairs Office of Inspector General.

Marine veteran John Knox arranges fall produce at the Growing Veterans farm stand at the VA Hospital in Seattle. Knox says learning to farm helped him make the transition back to civilian life.
KUOW photo/Patricia Murphy

Army vet Josh Wheeldon can tick off a half-dozen veterans groups he has volunteered with: The Mission Continues, AmeriCorps Vet Corps, Team Rubicon, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, 22Kill, Seattle Stand Down and Team Red White and Blue.

He’s also a lifetime member of the older Veterans of Foreign Wars. But he doesn’t always feel like he fits in there.

Oregon says it's making strides in finding housing for homeless veterans and just announced funding for two new housing projects for vets.

The leadership of the American Legion and VFW is seeking younger, more diverse members. But they face a challenge changing their public image.

Groups like the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars have served former service members for a century. But declining membership threatens to lessen their influence.

Navy veteran Donald Lollis said he's been sleeping on the streets for six months. 'They give you an honorable discharge and you just do the best you can. And that's how I've been living.'
KUOW Photo/Posey Gruener

It's 3 a.m. on the first day of a massive free clinic at Seattle Center. Anyone who needs medical, dental or vision care can find help here today — first come, first served. 

An Iraq vet named Ryan Mielcarek addressed the crowd: “By a quick show of hands, do we have any veterans in the audience here today?”

Mielcarek is the South Sound platoon leader with the veteran volunteer group, The Mission Continues. Their goal is to connect with veterans experiencing homelessness, more than 600 in King County according to official estimates.

Department of Veterans Affairs
Department of Veterans Affairs

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray is calling for disciplinary action after a Veterans Affairs investigation found that staffers in Seattle dumped mail about vets’ benefits in a yellow bucket and left it for months. 

A single number has shaped the way that Americans think about young military veterans.

It's the number 22, as in, 22 vets take their lives each day.

The number has become a rallying cry for advocates trying to call attention to suicide among vets, especially those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Twenty-two, not some vague, rounded-off number. Not 30, not 20. Twenty-two.

A number so specific it inspires action. Speeches, fundraisers, marches and even walks clear across the country.

But 22 doesn't quite add up.

Olympic College in Bremerton will receive money that will help to pay for a veteran center for students.
Olympic College

Lake Washington Institute of Technology in Kirkland and Olympic College in Bremerton will get a little more than $100,000 for the next three years to help student veterans.

The grants from the Department of Education will help create centers for student veterans. 

Henry Chamberlain looks at mementos from World War II. He spent three and a half years as a prisoner of the Japanese.
KUOW Photo/Patricia Murphy

In 1945 President Harry Truman declared Sept. 2 as Victory Over Japan Day. Japan surrendered aboard the USS Missouri. It was the official end of World War II.

But the suffering wasn't over for Henry Chamberlain, who had been captured on the Philippines' Bataan Peninsula more than three years before.

This is a tale of two cities. In New Orleans, there are signs of hope that veteran homelessness can be solved. But Los Angeles presents a very different picture.

Under the deafening highway noise of the Pontchartrain Expressway in central city New Orleans, Ronald Engberson, 54, beds down for the night. Engberson got out of the Marines in 1979, plagued even back then by problems with drugs and alcohol. He says that's mostly the reason he's been homeless the past 10 years.

Courtesy of George Patterson and Dave Cable

Lt. James Patterson, better known as Kelly, is missing in action.

Patterson went MIA 48 years ago, after his plane was shot down near Hanoi during the Vietnam War.

Department of Veterans Affairs
Department of Veterans Affairs

VA Puget Sound broke ground on a new mental health and research facility Wednesday.

It’s the first new structure on the VA's Seattle campus since 1988.

File photo of Joint Base Lewis-McChord headquarters.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

The suicide rate among recent veterans is about 50 percent higher than non-veterans with similar demographics. But a study published Wednesday found that deploying to a war zone didn't necessarily increase a service members’ suicide risk.