25 homeless vets receive keys to their new homes
TAMPA (FOX 13) - For the 54th year in a row, Hillsborough County held their Annual Veterans Day Tribute at Veterans Memorial Park.
Hundreds attended the ceremony, but it's what happened afterward that touched the hearts of the crowd.
25 homeless veterans received a very special gift.
"Keys to their own homes," explained Antoinette Hayes-Triplett. "The apartments will have food already in the refrigerator, they'll have furniture, bedding, toiletries, everything they'll need to get started in their new homes."
Triplett is with the Tampa Hillsborough Homeless Initiative, and helped bring Operation: REVEILLE to Hillsborough County, an organization whose sole mission is to get veterans off the streets.
Terry Wilson received a key on Sunday, he says life was a struggle before Operation: REVIELLE stepped in. "I didn't have anywhere to stay, sometimes living in cars bouncing around with friends and I have two kids."
Wilson, who joined the Army at 19, says when he first heard that he was accepted into the program, he felt a wave of relief and emotion.
"Oh man, I bust out in tears. I was just excited I was happy. I just couldn't believe it was all happening for me."
Wilson also explained that he used to let his pride get in the way of receiving help and taking advantage of resources.
He says he hopes that veterans in similar situations don't make the same mistake, because there are people who are willing to help.
"I'm proof of it today."