Roy Benjamin is a Vietnam veteran. He saw combat for nine months but served in the Marines for five years. Now the Brookhaven native finds himself walking the streets of Jackson, looking for a warm place to stay.
"I wanted to be the best of everything and by me not being the best of things, I started doubting myself. then that led to my downfall," explained Benjamin.
Benjamin believes his post traumatic stress disorder spiraled out of control, leading to two failed marriages, alcohol and substance abuse, along with jail time.
A once successful career is just a memory.
"These streets don't care about you or nobody else," said Benjamin.
The former Marine says he can't remember the last holiday spent with family.
Benjamin described the streets as cold and lonely, saying he couldn't relate to people.
He along with the other homeless veterans in Jackson are receiving hope at the Opportunity Center Day Shelter.
Director Heather Ivery says ten percent of the 100 or so people that walk through its doors every day are homeless veterans.
"In these winter months, like today, it's cold and it's gonna stay cold for several months; we are going to see more veterans. a lot of our older veterans are the ones that will camp out or find an abandoned house to live in, and would prefer not to come into the shelters as much," said Ivery.
Many advocacy groups worry veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan will soon start filling homeless shelters. It's already happened in Jackson but not in large numbers.
Ivery explained how the shelter catches younger veterans, "You try to catch them as soon as they come in the doors and work with them because we've learned that the longer you're homeless the harder it is to get out of that situation."
The Opportunity Center Day Shelter works closely with the G.V. Sonny Montgomery VA Hospital in Jackson.
"We have connections with their social workers, actually they send a case worker down here once a week to meet with people to make sure there is nobody we are missing. And then we can get them there with bus passes, to the hospital. The VA Homeless Program then takes it from there," explained Ivery.
However, Benjamin has some advice for younger vets.
"I know it's hard to talk to people and try to make them understand what you're saying, but find somebody, somewhere to listen to you and try to understand you. Even if they don't say nothing, it means a whole lot for you to be able to get a lot of that off of you."
Thursday, May 23 2013 7:31 PM EDT2013-05-23 23:31:22 GMT
The pastor and members of a Jefferson county church make the gruesome discovery of a body on the way to Bible study Wednesday evening. Sheriff Peter Walker said a woman's body was found just before 6:30More >>
Jefferson County Sheriff Peter Walker has identified the woman found dead in the cemetery of East Mount Olive Baptist Church Wednesday night.
Thursday, May 23 2013 9:13 PM EDT2013-05-24 01:13:14 GMT
Two elementary school girls were allegedly sexually assaulted by another female student. One incident happening while the two girls were at school. Two mothers are now speaking out about their daughters.More >>
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Thursday, May 23 2013 7:05 PM EDT2013-05-23 23:05:30 GMT
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A Jackson Public School district principal has had her license suspended for one year. Dr. Lisa Andrus-Johnson is the principal at Watkins Elementary school.More >>
Thursday, May 23 2013 2:07 PM EDT2013-05-23 18:07:42 GMT
Joseph Patrick Coates has pled guilty to three counts of sale of a controlled substance and was sentenced to 52 years in prison. The last eight years of the sentenced were suspended and he'll be placedMore >>
Joseph Patrick Coates has pleaded guilty to three counts of sale of a controlled substance and was sentenced to 52 years in prison. The last eight years of the sentence were suspended and he'll be placed on supervised probation following his release.More >>
Thursday, May 23 2013 5:38 PM EDT2013-05-23 21:38:18 GMT
The picture of a George County dog set on fire is disturbing. Authorities say the circumstances surrounding how fire consumed the dog are shocking. According to George County Sheriff Dean Howell, 20-year-oldMore >>
Socks, the dog reportedly burned this week by his owner, has died. That word comes from a George County Sheriff's deputy. Socks succumbed to injuries suffered after 20-year-old Brandon Pierce allegedly set his dog on fire Tuesday night. The suspect told deputies he torched the dog because he "wanted to help the dog go to heaven."More >>
Thursday, May 23 2013 9:28 AM EDT2013-05-23 13:28:21 GMT
Three on Your Side receives a complaint of tainted gas in Clinton Wednesday. Toby Latham said water in gasoline from Kangaroo Express on Springridge Road damaged his vehicle. According to the Byram motorist,More >>
One customer at a gas station in Clinton claims water in the fuel damaged his vehicle.
Thursday, May 23 2013 7:17 PM EDT2013-05-23 23:17:05 GMT
James Hutto interrupted his own capital murder trial Tuesday morning, angry that judge Bill Gowan decided against the admissibility of certain evidence. "None of that matters? F***. I don't give a f***More >>
Eighty-one year old Ethel Winstead Simpson was killed between 11:30 p.m. on September 13 and 1:15 a.m. on September 14, 2010. Prosecutors narrowed down the time frame Wednesday in the Capital Murder trial of James Hutto.More >>
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