Mark Reynolds spends a lot of time walking streets of St. Augustine, homeless veteran trying to get off the streets with help from VA
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Former Marine Sgt. Mark Reynolds is a homeless veteran who can often be seen walking through St. Augustine, frustrated his pleas for help are going unanswered.
"I don't like living like this," said 33-year old Reynolds.
Reynolds served in Iraq 14 months and was involved in the seize of Fallujah in 2004 during one of the major battles of the Iraqi war. Now he roams the streets of St. Augustine, dealing with the problems of post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.
"I have some nightmares here and there, sometimes the clarity of thought isn't quite where it should be. I am startled easily, there are a lot of things that are a little bit strange. It's difficult for me to enjoy life the way I used to be able to enjoy life. I don't like crowds or loud places."
Reynolds pitches his tent wherever he can at night, whether it is on a lawn or the woods or wherever he can. He has a part-time job he loves at Home Depot, but the income is just enough for food, a cell phone, and a storage unit for a few belongings, not enough for a roof over his head.
A job he had in Palm Coast came to an end and he moved to the area in November of 2011. He was staying with some friends in St. Augustine, but the house they were renting was foreclosed upon. Reynolds' friends had family to live with, but the Michigan native was left homeless.
Reynolds has spent months applying for a rental voucher through HUD and the VA and VA disability payments for PTSD, but has yet to get a definitive answer on his numerous requests for help.
"I have to wait three months here, I have to wait three months there, just to find out at the end of three months I really don't get any answers," he recalled.
"I am tired of being homeless and sleeping in whatever conditions I wind up sleeping in, and bitten by mosquitoes all night certainly doesn't make for a comfortable nights' rest."
Reynolds says the St. Johns County Veterans Council is trying to help and those at the VA are helpful and professional he says, but he feels their hands are tied. He meets with the VA again next week and is just hoping he gets some good news.
"I am frustrated , I am burnt out, I am tired but it hasn't taken my smile away."
He tries to keep that positive attitude, and he's gotten to know St. Augustine in a very unique way.
"It's a beautiful city, I love this city, I have seen a lot of it because I have to be outside, I wander. "
Reynolds says he knows there are veterans in worse circumstances than his, since he at least has a part-time job and some income. But he wants to get off the street as soon as he can and, if he can just get a little financial assistance from the VA, he believes it will happen.
First Coast News