Feb 15, 2011 6:51 PM by Melissa Anderson (Helena)

Homeless veteran in Helena makes strides, encourages others

Of the more than 107,000 homeless veterans in America, it's estimated that at least 1,000 of them are right here in Montana. The News Station's Melissa Anderson caught up with Brian Grimshaw, a homeless vet who is finally receiving help in Helena, and is hoping to change his life around - as well as

Since September of 2009, Grimshaw - a Navy veteran - has lived in the Willis Cruse transitional home for veterans in Helena. He is one of 12 temporary residents here working to get back on his feet.

Grimshaw explained, "When I first got here I was a wreck. Anxiety, depression, mood swings, anger."

Like others, Grimshaw must live by the rules: stay clean and sober and do his fair share. He is given a bed, hot meals, and encouragement to eventually make it on his own.

Rick Nicholson, a resident assistant at the facility, said, "Be looking for a job We ask that you be seeking a pension or going to school. We do have a curfew here of 11:00 at night."

With no car, Grimshaw walks from Willis Cruse to the Helena College of Technology, 40 minutes each way. He's working towards an associate degree in accounting and plans to spread the word to other homeless vets that there is help and hope.

Grimshaw noted, "Some of those you're not going to be able to reach but the ones that do want the help, like myself, I asked for it. Once I found out I had the benefits I said, 'Well let's get this going.'"

At 48-years old, Grimshaw has a certified mental disability which allowed him to receive state vocational rehab. At VA Montana he receives counseling and medication.

His only source of income is a Pell grant he receives for his schooling and food stamps, which isn't enough to live on.

He commented, "And with their help, I can get done and get out of here and get back into society, pay taxes, and go to work like everybody else."

Grimshaw isn't alone - there is a waiting list of about 50 others looking to fill his spot.

Nicholson said, "So we can transfer one person out and get two to five on the list. And that's just here in the state of Montana."

Currently Montana has only three homes to serve homeless veterans statewide; they are limited with only 49 beds, and none of those are for women

The VA Montana Health Care System is holding a veterans forum on Wednesday, February 16th, from 9 am to 3 pm at the Helena Civic Center to discuss problems encountered by the homeless.


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