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LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB-TV)--They have served our country, but now don't have a place to live. That's why a local not-for-profit organization is trying to provide some holiday cheer for veterans.
"I was in the Air Force in 1980," says Terry Compton, Air Force Veteran.
After a distinguished career in the Air Force, Compton's life took a turn.
"Unfortunately alcohol just took me down the wrong path."
Compton is now making the best of a one bedroom efficiency. And he is in the process of rebuilding his life. That's after years of alcohol abuse left him homeless.
"I've lived in woods, under viaducts."
Help was always there, but Compton was often too proud to take it.
"For veterans it's hard for us to reach out and ask for help because of a pride thing...you know especially being a male...you know, we don't even like to ask for directions," Compton says.
These days Compton is one of hundreds of homeless local vets getting the direction they need from Interlink Counseling Services on Preston Highway.
"In the state of Kentucky, on average, there's 1900 homeless veterans on the street on any given day," says Richard Waddell, Event Coordinator for Interlink Counseling Services.
Waddell says the non profit is trying to provide Christmas for hundreds of those local homeless vets.
"We try to start them off with the new year with a brand new wardrobe...the jacket obviously because it's winter time, a hooded sweatshirt, regular tee-shirt, blue jeans, socks, underwear, a belt, a new pair of shoes or boots," Waddell says.
The annual giveaway includes the clothing, a Christmas tree and Santa. And Waddell says the veterans become the biggest kids.
"You have 40, 50, 60...some of these 70 year old guys that sit on Santa's lap and they rip open those boxes like 4 year olds on Christmas morning...it's the most amazing thing that you'll ever see in your life."
And that's why Interlink needs the same kind of support it gets for Veterans' Day in November.
"Around Christmas time they tend to forget that there are homeless veterans on the streets and that they do need our help and support," says Waddell.
The big giveaway is next Friday. Interlink hopes to get enough donations to provide gift boxes for at least 150 homeless veterans.