Almost homeless WWII veteran needs help

Harold Utsler

Photo credit: Houston Chronicle, Michael Paulsen

Harold Utsler is a WWII veteran on the verge of being homeless after being stranded by his family at a Texas airport. A deservedly proud man, at 90 years old Harold is asking for help.

When Pets for Patriots first posted news of Harold’s predicament in early August, many people expressed astonishment that an elderly veteran would be facing homelessness. The Veterans’ Administration estimates that on any given night, 107,000 veterans are homeless and another 1.5 million are at risk due to a variety of factors, such as lack of support networks, poverty or poor living conditions. Inevitably, these risk factors apply to some elderly veterans who have little or no buffer zone to safeguard them from homelessness.

Harold is currently living in a transitional housing facility in Houston. We contacted U.S. Vets, the not-for-profit that manages the facility to confirm his story and find out how people could assist this war hero. By all accounts, this former B-24 top turret gunner and flight engineer, who flew 50 missions over Europe,  is a humble and surprisingly positive man in spite of his circumstances.

We left our number and Harold called us a few days later. He was grateful for the offer of support and told us how some extended family contacted him to help after learning of his predicament. Some he had not heard from in 15 years, but none are able to take him in. One family member is getting him a lounge chair so that he doesn’t have to sit up in bed to watch television in his otherwise spartan room. 

Harold has been in touch with us again for help. Limited to his Social Security and left with virtually nothing to his name, he is allowing us to put out an appeal for assistance. If you would like to help Harold, here’s how:

  • U.S. Vets needs money to pay for Harold to get a hearing aid. You can contribute online at U.S. Vets for the Houston location, or mail your check with how you would like your donation directed to: U.S. Vets 4604 Main Street, Houston TX 77002
  • If you’d like to send a gift card for Harold to buy clothing and other necessities, both Sears and Target are near the living facility 
  • If you’d like to send a gas card, Harold still drives! Both Chevron and Shell stations are nearby
  • Harold’s mailing address is: Midtown Terrace Suites 4640 Main Street, Room 306 Houston, TX 77002 – please send any monetary donations, gift cards or greeting cards directly to him at this address
If you do decide to give to Harold directly, please let him know Pets for Patriots sent you so that he knows we acted upon his request. And thank you for caring!

 

Comments

  1. Martha Griffith says:

    Thank you for sharing Harold’s story with us! He is an honorable man who deserves to be treated like a Hero! I will certainly get together with my family, including my son who is in the Army stationed at Ft. Hood, TX. and who was wounded in Afghanistan by an IED Strike on 03/03/2009, and my son in law who served as an MP in the Marines for 12 years before marrying my daughter, and my husband and I..we will get Harold a gift card to buy some clothes or whatever he needs to be okay. I am grateful that you have taken the time to check it all out and let us kow that he needs our help!

  2. Susan Mueller says:

    I can’t put into words how disgusted I am about what this man is going through! Shame on his “family” for abandoning him!! And shame on our government too!! This vet should NOT have to ask for help! As the proud daughter of a WWII veteran, I feel it’s my moral duty to do whatever I can to help this man….and that’s exactly what I’m gonna do! Mr. Utsler, hang in there. Help is on the way.

    • AMEN!!! I thought the same thing, specially “family” there is always room in the home,at the dinner table, family helps family NO MATTER WHAT….

    • This is a great picture. I rllaey like the fact that it looks as if the picture was taken over a body of water with a reflection in it. You have to look rllaey closely to figure out that the reflection is on the roof of a car.

  3. Lorraine Zales says:

    I am a Marine Veteran, I do not understand how he doesn’t have status to get a hearing device at his local VA Hospital. Is there someone I can talk to or would I phone him direct? something does not seem right, it would be his right to medical benefits.

  4. He does indeed qualify for not just a hearing aid but housing through the VA. He only has to ask.

  5. Our understanding from the folks currently overseeing his care is that they have “given up” on trying to get him a hearing aid from the VA, and are trying to raise some money to expedite getting him the device.

  6. Any local VA hospital can provide this veteran with housing vouchers, food vouchers, shelter, hearing aid services, and any other healthcare he may need. All it takes is making the contact. Hearing aids are provided at no cost to any veteran who has even a minimal hearing loss as long as they are enrolled as a patient.

  7. I cannot express how disgusted I am with our government also. These heroes put their live on the line so that we can enjoy the freedom that other countries don’t have. The least we can do is help them when they need it most.

  8. awlrite4now says:

    Someone is not intervening on behalf of Mr. Utsler. He is certainly qualified, and entitled to, hearing aid services and other healthcare needs from the VA. Like so many of his generation, he is most likely too proud to ask, and unfortunately, some who might try to navigate the system for him might give up all too easily. It happens. I’ve been in the VA system since my medical discharge from the Navy some 25 years ago. At first, I didn’t know who to ask. The answer was to keep asking until I found the right person to answer. Thank you for giving wider attention to his plight, and I hope others will also receive some benefit from this article.

  9. This is so heartbreaking! Being a military wife, I have learned that if you don’t put your “annoy until something happens” pants on, you won’t get what you need and are entitled too. The people helping him need to keep pushing to get him his benefits. Call everyday if they have to. It works. I’ve had to do it plenty of times for my special needs child.

  10. Has ANYONE offered this man a home?! This makes me so sad! I am making some phone calls and seeing some people tomorrow about this! My family and I would be willing to take this man in.

  11. To those who say he is entitled…you are right….However, you must not have much experience navigating the gv’t systems. As a military spouse, I get so frustrated with the way things work. regardless of if he is entitled, his needs are NOW, not on gvt time. I will send some thing, will you? We have 4 kids on about 2200 per month with the military pay. If we can do it, so can you. Have a heart.

    • Jen your so right! Im making this man a priority tomorrow. Im going to try and see the post commander to get him some help. Even if its only donations.

      • Thanks Sara! I will post it to our Garrison Colonel’s FB page. I was able to get him a $25 visa gift certificate and will mail it tomorrow. Both of my deceased grandpa’s were WWII vets, one with a Purple Heart. I wanted to honor the man and them with the gift. I hope many act on it!

  12. I was very touched by Harold’s story. As a Army mom and for that matter an American, I am so thankful for anyone who has served this country. I am going out today and sending him a card and a gift card. It seems so trivial, but I want him to know that there are those of us out here that appreciate the sacrifice.

  13. This hurts my heart. I have two great uncles that served in WW2. This is the government at work for sure….give help to those who don’t need it and ignore those who do. I’m gonna try to get him some money also. May God Bless This Hero.

  14. I got a card, and I’m sending a check in tomorrow’s mail to Harold. I’m honored to help a veteran that helped make USA the best country to live in. Thank you to all veterans for fighting for our freedom and democracy. My pup Reagan says thanks also for adopting the homeless pets and giving them a chance to love their humans unconditionally.

  15. My dad was a World War II vet and didn’t know until a few years ago that was able to apply for veterans benefits. He was the kind of man who went to the VA office, talked and then yelled to everyone for a week. And then he got medical benefits, including the hearing aids.
    The problem is that the govt doesn’t TELL vets they are due these things. Someone has to go and demand the benefits.
    And how could someone turn their back on family?
    Someone also should make it clear that the man is owed a full military funeral when that time comes. I know it sounds inappropriate to bring it up now but my dad died 2 months ago at 90 and my brothers (both smart businessmen) had no idea that it is a right of all vets. It sounds like he has a family that won’t step up when that time comes.
    Someone just needs to speak up and demand it.

  16. Does anyone know how Harold is doing? Is he still at the same address?

  17. Last we heard about six months ago, he was doing well and was being honored by Churchill’s great-grandson: http://www.usvetsinc.org/2011/09/02/wwii-veteran-honored-by-churchills-great-grandson/

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