May 25, 2015 5:11 PM
LEE - A local Marine who found himself homeless after serving 31 months during the Vietnam War is fighting to raise money so he can offer other New Hampshire vets who need it a mini-house.
A few years ago, Peter Macdonald and his wife, Agnes, decided to take the money they planned to use for their retirement years, and they put it toward buying 11 acres of land in Lee. They built a chapel, which also has a living space. The vision was to keep on building, offering mini-houses to homeless combat veterans.
But now, they are out of money, and Macdonald is raising funds and awareness for their Veteran Resort Chapel on Saturday in Barrington. He hopes to eventually gather enough cash to build a dozen tiny structures on the land, offering those who served their country a place to recoup before re-entering American society.
"Last winter alone there were 635 homeless veterans on the streets of New Hampshire, after the 2,400 beds were filled," Macdonald explained from inside the mini-house he put onto the back of his pick-up truck and drove to the Barrington Circle K.
The mini-house features a pull-out bed, kitchen sink, shower, heat and a composting toilet. Macdonald said anyone who needs the shelter can stay as long as they wish, if they refrain from alcohol and drugs, and they are not violent.
"A combat veteran should never have to leave his home until he is ready," Macdonald said, adding that he doesn't care if the vet stays on his land the rest of their natural life.
The battle for the mini-houses has not been easy. Macdonald faced resistance from the town of Lee a few years ago. But he sees a light at the end of the tunnel.
"Helping these heroes benefits every person in the USA," Macdonald wrote in the literature he passes out to those who stopped to see what he was doing.
He also hopes that others will consider putting a mini-house on their land to aid in the cause. Macdonald said that if more people in the Granite State pulled together to help homeless men and woman who served in the military, they could significantly decrease the number of people who live without shelter, even if they could not solve all of the problems combat veterans face.
"It's easier for us to go off and be by ourselves and be homeless until we're ready to come back, and that's why we are homeless. Drugs and alcohol have nothing to do with it," Macdonald said. "That's just a medication we use to accept the reality of being in a place we don't belong."
For more information on Veteran Resort-Chapel, click here.
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