Saratoga organization changes veterans' lives

Back at the house, they're assigned chores and share an evening meal at the vet house's large dinner table.

St. Mary's Church in Crescent supplied dinner on this particular Friday evening. Mary Moss, who co-chaired the event, said her church does two to three community projects a month, but the dinner on March 27 was the first it had done for the vet house.

"We'd definitely like to do it again," said Moss. "The men are very hospitable."

Moss said more awareness should be brought to the plight of homeless veterans and the resources that are out there for their support. "They're kind of this forgotten crew," she said of the men of the vet house. "And this facility is great because the men can understand each other's troubles and help each other with them. It was gratifying that we could go there and help brighten their day."

The Saratoga RPC, located at 36 Church Ave. in Ballston Spa, houses 10 veterans, but its services are not limited to veterans who reside in the shelter. "We offer employment and housing services among others," said Don Little, director of veterans' affairs for the RPC. "And we have a knowledgeable staff that can guide a veteran on his way to help."

Dingman, a 55-year-old Navy and Army veteran of Vietnam who has resided at the RPC since October, said he certainly needed guidance. A musician and songwriter who has done some studio recording, Dingman was married for 25 years before he and his wife separated in May. He said drugs, alcohol and an increasing desire to withdraw from his family led to the separation.

He said sharing a house with nine other people has been a challenge, but the camaraderie and teamwork they carried over from their military experience has helped tremendously.

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