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Operation Veterans’ Hope helps homeless veterans get work, job skills, and housing

MOUNT HOLLY SPRINGS, CUMBERLAND COUNTY, Pa. -- A thrift shop is transforming the lives of veterans in one part of Cumberland County.

Providing them with work, job skills, and even a place to call home.

The transition from military to civilian life can be difficult, just ask Johnathan Locke.

“When I got out I was dealing with PTSD. I had lot of issues with that. I was trying to get the help that I needed," said Locke.

After Locke deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, he struggled, and he says the United States Department of Veterans Affairs didn’t quite understand the extent of his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“I was told my issue wasn’t as bad as it was, and they kind of downplay things," he said.

To help others facing similar difficulties, Locke founded Operation Veterans' Hope. 

“One of the gentleman that I was helping during the time, he was homeless, and I took it upon myself to find himself a place to stay, not realizing how hard it was," explained Locke.

Veterans taking part in the 'Work2Stay program with OVH have a job and a place to eat, sleep, and live so long as they work at the organization’s thrift shop on North Baltimore Avenue in Mount Holly Springs.

“Veterans fought for our country so now we want somebody to fight for them," said Violet Rivera, a board member.

Violet Rivera found herself homeless after serving ten years with the United States Air Force.

Now, she's serves on the organization's board and provides some veterans relief.

"It's a place where if you need things you can go and get help. Sometimes, you know, you just want to be able to talk to somebody and just know somebody else has walked in your shoes," explained Rivera.

Community members can help by donating money or items to be sold at the thrift shop. Veterans in need of support just provide a copy of their discharge papers.

“It’s helping me give back, pay it forward if you will," said Rivera.

Right now, the organization needs men's clothes. Board members say they also take baked goods as donations.

One of OVH's main goals is to purchase the building on North Baltimore Avenue to expand veterans' services.