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Vets Find Shelter at NW Arkansas Hotel

BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- A Bentonville hotel is opening its doors to U.S. veterans without homes.
BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- A Bentonville hotel is opening its doors to Veterans without homes.

Wingate Hotel is working with local Veterans groups to place vets and their families in the hotel while they get back on their feet.

"We want to just take them off the street, help them get back on their feet, and move on," says Director of Rooms John Campbell. "That's all that they want, that's all that we want."

Fourteen families are living at the hotel now, at a reduced rate... But donations are helping cover costs for people who can't afford to pay.

"If they don't have the funds available, we still try to take care of them," Campbell says.

A veteran himself, Campbell says this program is about more than providing a bed to sleep in.

"We try to create a community type of an environment," he says. "We're accustomed to looking after each other, and they've got their families here, so we want to give them a sense of normalcy. We've created playrooms, different organizations have made food donations that have fed us."

Garrett Lambert spent six years in the Navy before he says he contracted valley fever while stationed in Southern California.

"It's a fungus that grows in the dirt and it becomes airborne and it destroys your lungs," he says.

Lambert may also have minor brain damage, but his Veterans Affairs benefits don't cover the bills.

"It's not enough to support three kids," he says.

The father is working with the VA to find a place to live, but until then, the Wingate staff has welcomed his family in.

"I just think it's amazing," he says. "I didn't think there were this many nice people in the world, and I appreciate everything everybody has done for me."

When Sharon Scott and her husband found out about the program, she decided to get involved.

"They have gone over to dangerous areas, some have come back wounded, some have come back broken in other ways," she says. "We can't just say, 'Oh, that's too bad.'"

Scott wrote a check Monday to help pay for some rooms.

"They do provide a breakfast, but they don't have a restaurant," she says. "So I went to Walmart and got a griddle and a bunch of snacks and stuff for the kids."

She wants all of Northwest Arkansas to get behind the program. For more information about the types of items they can use, call (479) 418-5400.

(story contributed by KNWA, Fayetteville, Ark)

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