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'I am so lucky, so grateful' | Non-profit steps up to help displaced San Antonio veteran find new home

Tony Fuentes served as a combat medic in Vietnam. Now he's helping veterans and their families by providing food, clothing and shelter.

SAN ANTONIO — Army veteran Rick Stover feared he would end up living on the streets once again after learning apartment ownership was no longer accepting Housing Choice Vouchers. But then came a phone call and a sign of hope. 

“I am so lucky, so grateful,” Stover said. “This gentleman Mr. Fuentes, he’s awesome, his organization is awesome.”

Stover experienced a rollercoaster of a life following his service in the military.

“I went down that dark path of drinking, drugs, homelessness,” Stover said.

His on and off bouts of homelessness collided with his relationships with family members. Stover eventually conquered his demons and has been sober for the past several years.

Related story: Veteran fears being homeless after new apartment owner refuses federal housing vouchers

The thought of having no place to live but the streets of San Antonio flooded Stover’s mind when he heard about the apartment situation, which he said affected at least a dozen veterans.

An Austin-based property management company took over the Cue at Medical Center apartments and refused to further accept Housing Choice Vouchers, according to Opportunity Home San Antonio ( formerly the San Antonio Housing Authority). 

Texas state law does not require private landlords to accept Housing Choice Vouchers.

“It’s a sad situation all away around. Unfortunately us vets, we gotta pay for it.”

Then he heard from Tony Fuentes, a Vietnam veteran who serves as executive director of the San Antonio Coalition for Veterans and Families.  

“As a combat medic in Vietnam, when somebody got injured, the medic was the first guy that they called,” Fuentes said.

The San Antonio native volunteered to join the military where he tended to injured and dying comrades in the battlefields of Vietnam.

There was a period when Fuentes dealt with the struggles of alcohol and drug addiction. He was able to overcome those barriers and shine a light on the veteran community in San Antonio through his extensive work with the non-profit coalition.

The San Antonio Coalition for Veterans and Families assists military service members by providing shelter, food, clothing and mental health resources.

Fuentes said the organization has helped more than a hundred families over the past year.

Stover is among the most recent veterans to receive immediate assistance. 

Fuentes is working with Vietnam veteran and real estate businessman Michael Lynd on arranging a home for Stover to move into that accepts Housing Choice Vouchers. Lynd owns the Auburn Creek apartments at 4411 Gardendale Road.

“What the coalition is doing, we’re paying for his initial deposit through our funds to be able to get him in here and Mr. Lynd is working out a deal where we can get him in here without any issues,” Fuentes said.

Lynd, who’s not directly affiliated with the coalition, has opened his doors to people from all walks of life, including families from Bosnia, Afghanistan. His main focus now is on helping struggling veterans.

“This program is like a year old that we’re really working on and I bet we’ve helped 10-12 vets, somewhere in that range. We’d like to help as many as we can,” Lynd said.

The Auburn Creek apartments on the northwest side will be Rick Stover’s fresh home come next week.

On Aug. 19, the San Antonio Coalition for Veterans and Families is hosting a fundraiser event featuring live music, catered dinner and a silent auction.

The event will be held at the Lynd Living corporate headquarters at 4499 Pond Hill Road.

To learn more about ticket prices and the coalition, go here.

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