A Life of Service

Dennis Johnson is no stranger to tough times. As a Vietnam Veteran, he knows first-hand the struggles that many go through as they transition back into civilian life. “All the stuff you go through, thinking about if you did right, all that kind of stuff,” recalls Dennis. He knows what it’s like to be denied work because of stereotypes that surround veterans. “Finding that I could help other veterans was kind of the final step in my recovery,” says Dennis, who founded Milwaukee Homeless Veterans Services in 2008. The organization strives to give veterans and the homeless a place where they feel a sense of belonging, respect and understanding, while helping them assimilate back into society. “Some people that came at the beginning have moved on to other things,” Dennis says proudly. “That’s what it’s intended for, to move on to your own thing.” The program has grown since its beginning and now operates a weekly food pantry and breakfast program, each serving between 250 and 300 people a week. “I’d like to think that we help a lot of veterans break the cycle [of homelessness],” Dennis says with a smile.

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