LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — "This is a story of diverse veteran organizations coming together to stop a veteran and his family from becoming homeless because of COVID-19," said Luis Vegas, an Army veteran.
Vega said he remembers first meeting Navy veteran Aaron Spencer and was impressed by his drive and personality. So when Spencer later reached out to Vega to ask for help, Vega knew he had to step in.
Spencer, his wife and their four kids to moved to Las Vegas so he could start a new career. A woman offered to let them live in her home while her children were away at college, so they stayed there and helped with groceries. Then, coronavirus hit, and they felt their first COVID-19 impact.
"When the corona hit all the colleges closed down and all the kids moved back and before we knew it there were 11 people in the house," said Spencer.
He had to find somewhere for his family to go quickly, so Vega reached out to veteran organizations to try to find a solution. Groups like Concerned Veterans for America and Merging Veterans and Players reached out to all of the different housing facilities, but everyone was full.
"I was really bewildered because I knew U.S. Vets was swamped, I knew Veterans Village was swamped, people aren’t necessarily opening their homes right now," said Vega.
While Veteran's Village didn't have spare beds, the head of the nonprofit, Arnold Stalk, didn't let the family face the streets. Vega said Stalk paid for the family to stay in a hotel for a month, giving them a temporary place to go until they could find a permanent solution.
Then, coronavirus struck again. Management at the hotel where they had just checked in told the family the whole hotel would be closing because of the virus.
"You gotta go in 48 hours, you gotta get out of here. Not just you, everyone is vacating the property, we’re closing down. COVID struck again," said Vega.
The military community wasn't done lending a hand. A friend of Vega's had an empty home and when he heard of the family's struggles, he offered the space.
"I just happened to have a house that’s currently empty and I had some renters that were going to move in but because of COVID-19 they’re getting delayed a month or so," said Kelly, a Marine veteran.
As he sat in his new temporary home, Spencer reflected on the support he'd received from his fellow military brothers and sisters.
"Never leave a man behind, never. You don’t do it in the field, you don’t do it at home," he said.