Moving Veterans Forward helps Omaha metro vets with new homes

A Papillion nonprofit is specializing in helping Omaha's veterans get back on their feet after experiencing homelessness.
Published: Sep. 17, 2023 at 10:25 AM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Five-year Navy veteran Marcos Mejia says it was tough transitioning back to civilian life.

“Doing stuff in the military, coming back home, losing the comradery, and trying to build relationships again,” Mejia said. “Then, it was hard just to bond with people that never really understood what you’d been through.”

Add to that the deaths of his sister and father.

“I fell into a deep depression and I became an alcoholic,” he said. “I went to inpatient rehab. Then after I got out, I found out a lot of my belongings got destroyed.”

He said two weeks later, he learned about Moving Veterans Forward, a nonprofit organization in Papillion that serves homeless vets in the Omaha area.

The group helps them find housing, gives them household items and essential care products, and moves them into their new homes.

“We provide all the necessities: Bedding, dishes, pots, pans, food,” Founder and CEO Ron Hernandez said. “Everything that would go into a home that we have today, we give all of that to them for free. We move them for free and set that home up for free.”

A 27-year Army vet himself, Hernandez understands the struggles America’s warriors go through. In fact, he doesn’t have a house or apartment of his own. Instead, he lives in his warehouse, saying he gives priority to taking care of unsheltered veterans.

He said they need to reach out though.

“The biggest issue is the actual veteran taking that first step, and that’s a pride and dignity thing that we have in the military,” he said.

Hernandez said a lot of vets struggle when they get out of the military because they lose a sense of purpose.

However, like many organizations available, he said Moving Veterans Forward will gladly take them in.

“There’s nobody paid down here,” Hernandez said. “I have some guys that put in 30 hours a week to a nonprofit moving furniture, working in the heat, climbing three flights of stairs to move a fellow veteran into a home. That’s pride and purpose and mission.”

For his part, Mejia said he’s happy that he and his family are able to rebuild with the organization’s help.

“It isn’t just getting the help,” he said. “It’s knowing that I got someone that I can relate to. I’m not the only one that struggles and there are other veterans that have been there, in my situation, that are giving back.”

He hopes to return the favor as well.

To provide its services, Moving Veterans Forward depends on financial donations and items like furniture, clothing, and electronics. If you would like to contribute, click here.