Nationwide, 11% of people experiencing homelessness have served in the military, in Asheville, it’s 43%.  A big issue like this calls for a big solution. That’s why today, on Veteran’s Day, we are highlighting a veteran who successfully transitioned from homelessness to permanent housing.

Mr. Dorsey was born in Asheville 82 years ago. He enlisted in the Army and served as a truck driver during the Vietnam War. After his service, he became a community organizer in Asheville in the African American community, “just like Obama,” he said. He helped residents avoid evictions and repair their homes.

Fast forward many years through attendance at North Carolina A&T University and a career as a police officer. Mr. Dorsey was living with his two loves: his wife Greta and his cat Sam. When doctors diagnosed Greta with cancer, Mr. Dorsey did everything to help her fight it. He sold his house to pay for her treatments and they moved into senior housing, but she eventually passed away from the disease.

Living alone with Sam, Mr. Dorsey decided to move in with his sister in Atlanta. Soon it became clear that the two weren’t meant to live together. Facing unaffordable rents in Atlanta, Mr. Dorsey borrowed from friends to move back to the Asheville area earlier this year. By that time, Mr. Dorsey had no savings left and didn’t earn enough on his pension to pay a deposit and first month’s rent on a place of his own.

He ended up in a shelter dorm room that he shared with other veterans, but the “no pets” rule meant that Sam couldn’t come along. He boarded Sam at a local pet shop across town and visited her every day. He was very lonely without his best friend.

Mr. Dorsey made contact with Homeward Bound and three weeks later he was placed in a home that he shares with Sam. He’ll receive  temporary financial assistance until he’s able to support himself on his Social Security again. Most importantly, he says, “I’ll never be separated from Sam again.”