San Bernardino – Jack was lying on a piece of cardboard in Perris Hill Park when San Bernardino County Sheriff Deputy Collins and Jones approached him one afternoon.
Once a decorated Vietnam veteran and business owner, Jack had hit rock bottom and given up on life after his wife’s death in 2010. He had been living on the streets for over a month. He turned to drinking heavily and ended up on the streets. He did not want to bother or worry his two adult children and decided to live in the park. Jack told deputies that he did not know how to get off the streets, but was willing to do whatever was necessary to get into housing.
After contacting Veteran Affairs, deputies discovered that Jack had earned five Medals of Valor during his service in Vietnam.
His day was about to change for the better. On Feb. 23, Jack was given a fresh start on life and offered assistance by the Sheriff’s HOPE (Homeless Outreach Proactive Enforcement) team.
Jack was very eager to get out of the park and agreed. He had an honorable discharge and a copy of his Together with Veteran Affairs (VA) and Knowledge & Education For Your Success, Inc. (KEYS), deputies helped Jack put a roof over his head.
Jack was extremely happy and appreciative of the assistance provided to him by HOPE, and repeatedly thanked and shook the team’s hands, with tears in his eyes, deputies said.
“It was truly a pleasure to help a national hero get back on his feet and restore some dignity to his life,” Jones said. “The HOPE team is pushing to end veteran homelessness in San Bernardino County.”
This is just one of the many success stories of the SB County Sheriff’s HOPE program.
HOPE was developed in 2014 to balance proactive outreach with enforcement of the law, while connecting members of the homeless population with resources that may help them transition from homelessness. The deputies even appear less threatening sporting polo shirts and khaki pants.
According to the HOPE webpage, the ultimate goal is to reduce the rate of recidivism and reduce the current costs associated to homeless related crime.
How can you help? Deputies encourage the public to give donations to organizations that assist homeless persons, not panhandlers. Statistics show that most panhandlers are not homeless, and most homeless do not panhandle.