VIRAL VETERAN: Mich. makeover raises awareness of homelessness - My29 WFTC Minneapolis-St. Paul

VIRAL VETERAN: Mich. makeover raises awareness of homelessness

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Viral videos can sometimes draw attention to important issues, and one that features a homeless veteran who got a makeover in Michigan is increasing awareness of military members living on the street.

It's often said that first impressions matter, and that's an obstacle for homeless veterans hoping to land a job interview. That's part of the motivation behind the short makeover video created by a Michigan-based nonprofit that helps veterans -- and it inspired one Twin Cities salon to try the same thing in the metro.

The video features U.S. Army veteran Jim Wolf, and it introduces him as a man who has struggled with poverty, homelessness and alcohol for decades.

The time-lapse footage shows his transformation from a disheveled man to a picture-perfect model, and the makeover made an impression on those at the Salvation Army's Harbor Light Center in Minneapolis.

According to Cmdr. Jeff Strickler, with the Twin Cities Salvation Army, the biggest challenge is that many new veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan continue to come home with post-traumatic stress disorder and other issues.

"Many of them go off on their own to deal with issues and maybe don't have some of the social networks and supports," Strickler explained.

The video also inspired Lucia Kim at Bella Beauty Salon in St. Paul to offer Otis DeChamp a free trim for his service in Germany in the hopes that a new 'do could be a step in the right direction.

The producer of the original video did emphasize that a new suit will not change a homeless veteran's life overnight; however, a professional appearance is one step on the road to success, and he hopes more people step up to help homeless vets.

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