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Pay it Forward: Homeless veteran receives help from caring Georgians

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After a story reported by The Marietta Daily Journal (MDJ) on Thursday, a veteran who has been homeless for over a year, finally woke up in a warm bed this weekend.

John Chambers, 65, is a Vietnam veteran who faced foreclosure and lost his home around this time last year. Since then, he's been living in a van with his dog, Scout, a 7-year-old Border Collie. The pair usually parked in a store parking lot for the night. According to Chambers, his mortgage lenders evicted him and his dog without giving prior warning. The safest place he could find was the Walmart parking lot on Cobb Parkway at the Roswell Road intersection. To make matters worse, Chambers was fired from his job once his employers found out he was homeless, and the Veterans Administration didn't assist in finding him temporary housing.

When Cobb County residents got word of his story, however, Chambers received an outpour of love and help. The Marietta American Legion Post 29 paid for food and an extended stay hotel for Chambers while he gets back on his feet. Additionally, over 100 locals visited Chambers in his Toyota minivan while several others called MDJ, offering assistance.

“One guy came by and gave me a hundred bucks and said he’s in the insurance business and he’s going to try and get me a job as an insurance adjuster. I worked as an adjuster on Hurricane Irene, so I can do that. I don’t have a whole lot of experience, but I certainly can do it," Chambers said.

Chambers cannot express enough how grateful he is for all of the community support and help.

“Too many things have happened to tell you since the story hit the newsstands Thursday morning. Tons of people have come out to the car, dropping off food, cards, asking how they can help, telling me I could stay the night in their house. This is surreal. I don’t want to be in the limelight, really. I’m a little uncomfortable by it. But it humbles me. People coming by, giving me money, giving me groceries. People have been coming out of the woodwork all day," Chambers told local MDJ reporters.

Another Cobb resident brought $200 worth of premium dog food for Scout, and several others offered both Chamber and Scout living arrangements, such as basement apartments and spare rooms.

Meanwhile, his former home is tied up in legal issues with mortgage lender, Freddie Mac.

Chambers is still fighting to somehow get his home back, and several attorneys offered to take his case on a pro bono basis and file a civil suit against Freddie Mac. A local real estate agent, Melody Unger, along with her attorney, Elizabeth Cook, formed a non-profit charity in an attempt to help Chambers get his home back.

“If we can just get 100 people to donate $500 I feel like we could probably get the house for $50,000,” said Unger.

However, no amount is too small. If you'd like to help Chambers, donations may be mailed to JRC Home Fund, Inc. at:

196 Freyer Drive NE, Marietta, GA 30060

c/o Melody Unger with Keller Williams Realty

Today, over 57,000 U.S. veterans are homeless or have experienced homelessness for at least a night. Although only 7% of the general population can claim veterans status, at least 13% of the homeless population in the U.S. are veterans.

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