Veterans are commended for their courage and service to their country, but all too often they are left by the wayside when they come back to civilian life.
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), almost 50,000 veterans are homeless on any given night.
Right here in Williston, there are people looking to make a difference.
After identifying there was a homeless issue in Williston, Director of Operations for Bakken 411, Anetta Replogle, decided she had the means to help.
One of the most selfless people one could ever meet, it’s no wonder she has gone through such lengths to build upon her own business interests, but at the same time, help others every step of the way.
Replogle operates a housing and private lending company, and when the housing market began to slow, she saw an opportunity to help those who wouldn’t have had a roof over their heads otherwise.
Through the use of two of her company vans from Bakken 411, she had the autonomy to provide transportation for veterans so they were able to get jobs.
Like with many entrepreneurs, a lightbulb went off in Replogle’s head when a friend was looking to sell their pressure washing company. She quickly purchased it and gave the veterans wanting to work for her, a job.
Replogle said she also has worked closely with Cindy Sanford, Manager with the Williston Job Services of North Dakota, to help them find work in the community.
She explains that she has 42 beds set aside for veterans currently, and 12 she sponsors herself. “We’re not a non-profit,” said Replogle. “We’re a hand-up, not a hand-down.”
The veterans in the 12 beds are allowed a maximum of two weeks to help them get back on their feet. In that span, veterans are given a bed, food, transportation to a job, and provided with work opportunities.
After they start making paychecks for themselves, they are free to stay. Replogle said she only asks $300 to $500 a month and to help keep their place clean.
“Sometimes you just need a week or two to just breathe and sort things out,” Replogle said.
She said she houses veterans of all ages, and after hearing their stories, knows some are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). “I don’t know everything, but I do put them in touch with the right people” said Replogle. If a veteran ever felt they needed further counseling, she gets them to the Veteran’s Affairs office.
She feels it’s been really beneficial. Since having them all together and just coming from the same place, there is camaraderie among the veterans.
She has seen success in her “take some and leave some,” business model. Replogle’s efforts are now coming full circle. She chanced upon an ad selling 1,000 acres of land which she purchased and can now utilize to build more housing and provide more rooms for veterans.
“It takes all of us to come together to help another person,” Replogle said. “I am just so thankful.”
By Melissa Krause
Published August 1, 2015