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Veterans Health Administration


A Time to Celebrate Veterans of Several Different Battles

Man and American Flag

Joe Towles

The History of Veterans Day

The origin of Veterans Day is connected to the day marking the end of World War I — November 11 — but the official date and first proclamation came from President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1954. Read the complete history of Veterans Day.

Joe’s Tough Trip from Homeless to Helping the Homeless

On Veterans Day, we think of our national anthem and salute those men and women who really have heard “the bombs bursting in air.”

Most don’t make the front page or the evening news. Many return or retire and stow their uniforms in a box in the attic. A lot of Veterans slide back into some version of the life they knew before. And too many find themselves fighting new and different battles…with their personal demons.

Like Vietnam Veteran Joe Towles.

Towles knows what it is to be on the street. A former crack addict, Towles went from sleeping under carports in Charleston, S.C., to becoming the Resident Case Manager at the transitional housing facility where he once received help, thanks to VA’s Homeless Program.

“What VA gave me, I am happy to give away.”

“I was housed at Veteran Villas and they take care of everything. It’s set up for the homeless and what’s pretty cool about it is that at the end of my stay, they asked me to stay on,” Towles says.

Vet Villas is comprised of several duplexes on Charleston’s old naval base. The facility houses about 20 Veterans at a time who stay 40 to 45 days.

Reconnected with a Purpose

Towles’ addiction cost him his marriage and much more. But in 2003, he checked into the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston where he received substance abuse treatment, counseling, case management and the support he needed to get back on his feet. Today he has reconnected with his children and has found his purpose in caring for other Veterans who are homeless.

“I just want to help one Vet each day. What VA gave me, I am happy to give away,” Towles says.

Towles leads a regular Narcotics Anonymous meeting and makes sure his residents are moving forward to break their own cycle of homelessness.

And on Veterans Day, he will be at the North Charleston Veterans Day celebration with all his residents and enjoying the day with his fellow Veterans. On the evening of Nov 14th, he will be at a local restaurant with his residents for Military Appreciation Day.