‘I fight for them’: Maine veteran builds temporary housing for fellow vets who are homeless

A Maine veteran is giving back to other veterans who are struggling with homelessness amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Ed Harmon, a service officer with the American Legion post in Boothbay, Maine, retrofits trailers into living spaces through a project he calls the Veterans Emergency Temporary Shelter, or VETS.

Cargo trailers used as temporary housing for military veterans in the process of finding a permanent home

The cargo trailers are used as temporary housing for military veterans in the process of finding a permanent home.

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The housing units are one-room living spaces equipped with a bed, microwave and refrigerator, and provide safe and secure housing for veterans for a couple of days to a couple of weeks, or even longer as necessary.

"Now the vets are not going to freeze, and that’s the whole idea of it," Harmon said. "We’re keeping them alive."

Harmon, 72, is a veteran himself, and served in Vietnam.

"They [the veterans] can’t say they don’t understand, because I do," Harmon said. "The whole idea is to show them I’ve been there. I understand, and I fight for them."

The one-room living spaces provide safe and secure housing for veterans

The trailers are available to veterans anywhere in the state. One has traveled as far as Acadia National Park — more than 110 miles from Boothbay.

"He [the veteran] opened the door and he walked in, and he sat on the bed and said ‘I died and just went to heaven.’ It makes you feel pretty good," Harmon said.

Currently, there are five trailers available, and Harmon’s goal is to have 12 built this year, and hopefully 100 over time.

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As a nonprofit 501c3 organization, he is asking for additional donations and volunteers to make it happen.

Anyone interested in sending a donation should visit their website or call Boothbay V.E.T.S., Inc. at 207-633-7935 or 207-242-9310. 

"We’re not doing it for money. We don’t make money. We don’t charge money. Our labor is 100 percent free," Harmon noted. "If we all pull together, all of us, we can help this world. We can help our people. We can help our vets. We can help other homeless people."