Memorial Day

A Decorated Apartment, Not a Decorated Grave

Mr Netting Collage 

 Each year on Memorial Day our country remembers the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.

 What about the men and women who return home but oftentimes face a lifetime of mental, physical and financial hardships ahead of them? They may have survived their time overseas at war, but that’s not the only war they must endure. Sometimes veterans fall long after their term of service; many are dying while homeless on our streets (13% of the adult homeless population are veterans) and will not be remembered at all. Some communities are working hard to make sure that this year, an apartment is decorated and a veteran’s grave goes unused.

Mr. Netting is a 69-year-old Arlington-born Vietnam veteran who has struggled with homelessness and mental health issues (May is also Mental Health Awareness Month); I’d like to tell you more about his story in hopes that you will share it with readers.

Mr. Netting attended Woodlawn Elementary, Swanson Middle and Washington & Lee High School. After high school, he attended Penn State where he studied broadcast journalism.

He joined the Marine Corps in January 1966 and served in a non-combat unit in Vietnam.

When he returned, he had an internship with local Channel 7 before moving to Charleston SC and then Key West. Mr. Netting returned to Arlington in 2002, then started to experience sporadic homelessness.

From 2002 – 2010 he did not have a permanent address. He couch surfed or lived on the street.  He tried to get benefits through the VA. In 2011, he connected with Volunteers of America Chesapeake and A-SPAN (Arlington Street People Assistance Network) through the “100 Homes for 100 Arlingtonians” campaign and started working with the Arlington Office of Aging & Disability late spring 2012.

On May 1, 2013, Mr. Netting moved into a Permanent Supportive Housing unit through a VASH (Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing) voucher. This voucher was one of ten VASH vouchers Arlington received after a long advocacy program by A-SPAN.

“Going from homelessness to having a home, was principally facilitated through my case manager and other staff members of Volunteers of America Chesapeake’s Residential Program Center,” said Mr. Netting. “I would not be able to accomplish my goals without the professionalism, caring, exhibited by her. When I was homeless, she was my voice.”

 Home is not only your physical address, but also your community and your support system. Join us in celebrating the power of partnerships. Arlington agencies have worked together to find Mr. Netting a place to call home in all senses of the word. 

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