Wednesday, June 24, 2009
By Nick LaFave & photojournalist Carrie Kohlmeier, FOX 21 News
DULUTH - A Vietnam veteran is losing his home. That is now unavoidable.
Fox 21 told you last month about Nhia Vang of Duluth , and the attempts to save his home from foreclosure after losing his job. That fight has been lost. But, Vang and his family are still hoping for a better tomorrow.
Nhia Vang is packing up his Duluth home of 11 years. Boxes are filled inside. Outside, there is barren grass where US and Hmong flags once stood.
"I'm thinking I'm gonna lose my house," says Vang. "So, I take my flags out and package everything. Get ready."
Nhia lost his job as a machinist earlier this year. He's recently secured a job at the Center for Alcohol and Drug Treatment. But, it was too late. A friend told him today, the house had already been sold.
"It broke my heart," says Terry mahoney, a social worker who broke the news. She's taken a personal hand in helping the Vangs. Public support has raised four-thousand dollars. But, it's not nearly enough to save the house. Instead it will cover moving expenses to public housing, which they have secured. But, is two-levels with uncarpeted stairs. Not ideal for Nhia's wife, Mai - paralyzed on one side from a stroke.
"So, we're looking to see if we can do some adaptations in there or find a house that's a little more accessible for them," says Mahoney.
Complicating Nhia's story... the fact that as an 11 year old in Laos, he took up arms for the US in Vietnam. For seven years he fought. But, his discharge papers are Laotian. And he doesn't not qualify for veteran's benefits.
Terry has written both Senator Klobuchar and Congressman Oberstar asking them both to support legislation that would provide benefits to all nationals who fought on behalf of the US. Benefits Terry says could have significantly helped Nhia and his family.
"Because there are benefits for veterans who are at risk of losing their homes," she says.
Nhia has three children yet at home. He's going back to school for a programming degree, which he'll complete in less than six months. But, even when that's complete... he still won't have his home back.
"Yeah. Makes me very sad."
If you would like to help Nhia and his family, they still need help moving and possibly making accomodations from Mai.
You can call Terry at either 218-786-8327 or 218-727-6072.Source