Guess Who's Helping Seattle Homeless Veterans? Syrian Refugees | KUOW News and Information

Guess Who's Helping Seattle Homeless Veterans? Syrian Refugees

Nov 22, 2015

The debate about resettling Syrian refugees has some people asking, “Why don’t we use that money on homeless veterans instead?”

We asked homeless veterans in downtown Seattle what they thought.

In line at The Millionaire Club, veteran Greg Klutcher shared his view: "The whole reason veterans fought for what they did is so that people like that could come here. Everybody needs a helping hand sometimes."

Klutcher has been homeless for six months.

Also in line was Damon Lyons, a veteran who said he’d like to see more funding for homeless vets, but not at the expense of refugees.

“There should be middle ground,” Lyons said. “Those people are now in distress.” He’s been homeless for two years.

Lyons and Klutcher were at an event hosted by the Seattle area’s Muslim community. It’s called “Day of Dignity,” and it’s been hosted by the Muslim community for the last 10 years. They give out sleeping bags, haircuts and other items to hundreds of homeless people.

Among the volunteers were two brothers – Syrian refugees who came to Seattle with their family a few months ago. The brothers volunteer at events like this because they say they want to give back to the community that's welcomed them.

Nabil Al-Salkini, 14, said he also "wants people to know that the image of ISIS does not represent us."

His older brother Yazan Al-Salkini described why their family left Syria more than four years ago. “Life stopped. We lost our home. It got bombed. Burned down. We couldn’t go to school because civil war started. We were about to be persecuted or killed.”

About 40 Syrian refugees have resettled in the Northwest since the war started. President Barack Obama has pledged for the U.S. to take in at least 10,000 Syrian refugees next year.

But some in Congress have pushed back, citing security concerns.

Al-Salkini says he still believes that Syrians will still be welcome here.

“I really have hope that other people from my community who are seeking help as I do, have opportunity to come here and start a new life, as we are starting to do,” he said.