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Bentonville hotel opens doors to homeless veterans

The Wingate Inn has 19 guests who are either retired military or the family member of someone who is.

July 11, 2013|By Dustin Hodges, KY3 News | dhodges@ky3.com

BENTONVILLE, Ark. - A Bentonville hotel has found a creative way to fill vacant rooms.

The Wingate Inn has recently opened its doors to homeless veterans in Northwest Arkansas, Southwest Missouri and Northeast Oklahoma. Nineteen of the hotel's guests are either retired military or the family member of someone who is.

The first family to move in was a husband and wife who are both veterans; they moved in on May 1. The hotel added another eleven permanent residents Tuesday night.    

Steve Isaacson, who is retired from the Army himself, has been working with the hotel to find a place for veterans to sleep and get them any Veterans Administration benefits they've earned. He says if not for the Wingate opening its doors to the veterans and their families, many of them would have no where else to go.

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"When you have anyone that wants to check into a shelter they can say, you can come in but the kids can not so they have to go somewhere else," Isaacson said. "They're not going to check in there. They'd rather sleep in the streets, sleep underneath a bridge."

"If you're a single male right now in Northwest Arkansas, I can find you a place to stay -- you will not be homeless," Barbara Aguirre with the American Legion said. "But if you're a single male with children, your children go into foster care, so there's no place for families and there's no place for couples."

Steve is meeting with VA officials on the 26th of this month to discuss expansion. They would like expand to hotels in Ohio, Florida, Arizona, and perhaps even Springfield.    

If anyone is interested in helping sponsor a room for a veteran at the Wingate or if any hotels in the area would be interested in opening some of their rooms to homeless veterans, you can contact Steve before the 26th by visiting his Facebook page dedicated to helping veterans.

Steve says if you don't have any money you don't pay anything for the room, but some veterans who qualify for benefits do pay just $14 a night.

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