There has been an outpouring of support for a homeless veteran in Ottawa.
56-year-old Diane Claveau says she is overwhelmed with the response to her story and feels hopeful she may find a job and a home.
Viewers across Canada responded yesterday to our story of Claveau, a veteran, living in her van in a parking lot.
But so, too, did organizations like Vets Canada that has helped Claveau in the past and said it is certainly willing to be there for her again.
Diane Claveau is on the job hunt again this morning, as she walks into an Ontario Works and city of Ottawa building on Walkley Road in Ottawa’s south end.
“I’m always looking for work here,” she says, as she accesses the computers available inside the building. It is one day since CTV featured her struggle as a Canadian veteran living in her vehicle in the parking lot of a big box store.
“It’s hard to end up this way,” she told CTV news yesterday, “working all your life and ending up like this.”
Many of our viewers were touched by Claveau's story and reached out with offers of help, from résumé writing, to food, a place to stay, even potential offers of employment. CTV Ottawa has passed all of those offers of help to her.
“I think it’s amazing,” she said of the response to her story, “because I’ve been trying so hard.”
There are organizations like VETS (Vets Emergency Transition Services) Canada that are aimed at ensuring our veterans are properly housed’ veterans like Robert Praet ho was homeless when he first arrived in Ottawa and now volunteers with the group.
“For me, it's paying it forward,” says Prae, “They helped me, and I’m capable of helping VETS Canada get to the vets who need it.”
Every month, they go into the shelters looking for homeless veterans. Their efforts, they say, have been incredibly successful.
“We have volunteers working here to make sure that number doesn't creep up,” says Jim Lowther, the co-founder of VETS Canada, “We have boots on the ground, who go into shelters once a month, looking for vets who are homeless and if they identify as homeless, we verify their services (with the military). If it's housing, we'll help them with housing. If it's work, we'll help them with work. So, there's nothing we won't help with to get them back on their feet to make sure they have a successful transition.”
Diane Claveau says VETS Canada helped her during the cold winter, finding her an apartment to stay for several months. The organization says it is always here to help but veterans need to want that help.
“Our volunteers and staff will work as hard as we can to help a veteran out of a tough situation but veterans have to be willing to work just as hard,” says Debbie Lowther, co-founder of VETS Canada, “and sometimes there comes a point in time when you realize your volunteers are working harder than the veteran.”
Veterans' Affairs Canada meantime, told CTV it will work with Claveau to get her the support she needs. Claveau is not optimistic about that.
“It’s good to hear,” she says, “And we’ll see.”
But she is more optimistic today, as she works the contacts she has made over the last 24 hours
“I think that I’m going to have a job,” she says, “and the rent should come soon after. Once I have my first paycheque, I’ll be able to have a place to stay.”
VETS Canada confirmed late Thursday afternoon that they received a call from a landlord about a possible place Claveau could stay. The organization says it has reached out to Claveau with that information.
VETS Canada also disputes the number of homeless veterans in Ottawa that some groups say could be as high as 85 a day. They say it is closer to "near-zero". Claveau will be happy when she’s no longer a part of that statistic.