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R.C. Higgins, Founder and Vietnam Veteran

It started out as a mission to take care of our fellow Veterans returning home and to this day we are committed to giving every Veteran a deserved ‘welcome home.’

— R.C. Higgins, Co-Founder and Vietnam Veteran

Our Story

Serving Veterans Since 1992

All it took to motivate a Columbia group of Vietnam Veterans to action was for one of their brothers-in-arms to die alone on the streets. They refused to accept Veteran homelessness, invested their own money, opened a shelter, and Welcome Home was born. They didn’t accept Veteran homelessness then. We cannot accept it today.

In the years since its establishment, Welcome Home has evolved from simply a shelter into a transitional living facility committed to providing emergency food and clothing, a clean and stable living environment, case management and advocacy to disadvantaged and displaced Veterans.

Our organization is based on the belief that no Veteran who has served our country should be without a place to call home. Just as Soldiers commit to leave no one behind on the battlefield, we commit to leave no Veteran behind to sleep on the streets.

Missouri Map
Currently serving 14 counties in Missouri

Watch our short film “The Journey Home,” a story about the powerful bond that exists between all veterans.

With Terry Roberts, USMC Veteran

Understanding the issues

Who are homeless Veterans? 

One-third of our nation’s entire homeless population are Veterans. The VA says that 95% of Homeless Veterans are male, 46% are age 45 or older, and almost half served during the Vietnam Era. About 45% of all Homeless Veterans suffer from mental illness.

How many Veterans are homeless? 

HUD estimates that more than 62,000 Veterans are homeless on any given night, and almost twice that number experience homelessness over the course of a year (2012). It is estimated that one out of three homeless adults in our nation has put on a uniform to serve our country. In Missouri, there are more than 600 homeless Veterans. 

Why are Veterans homeless? 

Veterans are homeless due to a complex set of factors such as mental and physical disabilities, severe shortages in affordable housing and supportive services, and high unemployment. A large number of displaced and at-risk Veterans live with the lingering effects of trauma, compounded by a lack of family and social support networks.

Who are homeless Veterans in Columbia, MO? 

About 1 in 5 homeless people in Columbia are Veterans. The average age of Homeless Veterans in Columbia is about 45. At least 85% of Homeless Veterans in Columbia are diagnosed with a mental illness that contributes to chronic social and occupational limitations.

What are the biggest challenges for homeless Veterans? 

Aside from adequate shelter, some of the biggest challenges Homeless Veterans face:

  • Disability – Most Veterans staying at Welcome Home are applying for VA and/or Social Security disability compensation and have very limited financial resources to meet their basic needs until a determination can be made. This process is often lengthy and can take as long as two years. Often Veterans become homeless because they are unable to work and they have no income until a decision on compensation has been made.
  • Employment – Many employers are afraid to hire homeless people, and many are unable to accommodate a modified work load or schedule that someone with a mental or physical disability may require. The current economic situation makes the challenge of finding work even more difficult.
  • Transportation – Sometimes the bus isn’t an option for Veterans who work early or late hours.
  • Clothing – While there are a number of facilities that sell used clothing, often our Veterans have so little money that they simply cannot afford to buy any clothing.

Does Welcome Home help Veterans who are not homeless? 

Welcome Home is here to serve all Veterans and their families. Through our programs and partnerships we serve homeless Veterans, those at risk of becoming homeless, and Veterans with stable housing, but seeking tools and resources to identify and sustain meaningful employment. 

How can the community support the mission to end Veteran homelessness? 

More than 600 Veterans are homeless in the state of Missouri. Unacceptable in our eyes. Welcome Home is a non-profit organization taking action to end Veteran homelessness

But, we can’t do it alone! 

With your support we are able to provide more than just shelter and services to Veterans. We provide a secure and stable community Veterans can call ‘home.’ Our “community for Veterans” is well-equipped with the critical resources and professional staff necessary to offer both practical and emotional support to area veterans. Welcome Home builds community among our Veterans, as well as with partners and advocates throughout the state of Missouri. 

With your generous gift you will help provide direct assistance to homeless and at-risk Veterans, as well as their families. Will you help us honor Veterans and restore their lives? 

If you or your organization are interested in supporting our deserving heroes, please consider a tax-deductible donation today! 

There are also many other ways that individuals and organizations can help. Please check out the “Get Involved” page or contact our office for more information.