AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — NewsChannel 6 reporter Devin Johnson has been looking into this since the story about a dog recently separated from its owner, a homeless veteran.
Tic Tac’s owner William Fogal, served in the Vietnam War. Late July, two Richmond County deputies found him and his dog living in his car in terrible physical conditions. Later he died in the VA hospital. Tic Tac was the only family Fogal had. There are many more like Fogal, trying to survive without any family.
More than 9,000 people in Georgia and 4,000 people in South Carolina are experiencing homelessness on any given day.
“A lot of these men and women that are out there in a homeless state were veterans that served the country,” said deputy director with ForcesUnited, Don Clark. “We should honor them like we should anybody else.”
705 of those people in the Peach State are veterans, and the Palmetto State falls behind at 415. Augusta had two homeless veterans who have passed away with no one to account for them in July. Now, ForcesUnited is making a call to action.
“If I can make a place better when I leave for the next ones that come behind me, that’s true services,” explained Clark.
The deputy director says a reason why the number of homeless veterans is high, is because they don’t want to be a burden. But he believes there is a burden when they die without any family.
“I mean I have to let somebody know that I’m in need,” said Clark. “Number two, I’m entitled to receive those services or resources.”
The chairman for the CSRA Vietnam War Memorial Initiative says there is a trend nationwide of veterans dying who go unnoticed.
“There is, in fact, a community out here that support them; often if they would help us in taking that first step in identifying themselves,” said Dr. James Brady.
Dr. Brady told Devin, we as a community also need to step up to reduce those numbers.
“It would be great just to get word to these homeless veterans that there is somewhere they can turn other than the local corner at night, where they might have a cardboard box for a pillow,” explained Brady.
Even if they refuse help, Clark says being persistent is essential.
“Guess what? I’m going to see you again, and you’re going to me to see me again,” said Clark. “I’m still going to ask do you need help? If you want help, we’re right here.”
ForcesUnited is having a memorial in honor of Mr. Fogal. The memorial is open to the public and will be held at Pierce United Methodist Wednesday at 10 am. CSRA Forgotten Souls Rescue, CSRA Vietnam War Memorial Initiative, and other local agencies are expected to come.
Deputy Patrick Brown with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office and CSRA Forgotten Souls Rescue are still at a standstill finding any of William Fogal’s family. As for Tic Tac, the rescue group is getting him healthy to be adopted in a forever home.
Photojournalist: Will Baker