Out of all the veterans in Central Illinois, more than 500 of them are homeless. Mike Knackmuhs said he served as a marine in Beirut, Japan, the Phillipines and Guam, but now back in the U.S., he has nowhere to live.
"This will be the first year that I've actually been homeless," Knackmuhs said.
And he's not the only one.
Vicki Hightower, Veterans Services Manager for Goodwill Central Illinois, said the numbers keep growing.
"Last year we had 123 homeless veterans and this year we're expecting at least 140," Hightower said.
This year is the fourth time Goodwill has hosted the event, and Hightower said the response from the community was so overwhelming they had to turn down volunteers. She said that's good news since this might be the only get some veterans get.
"I think everybody believes that there are veteran benefits for everyone and that's not true," Hightower said.
"I've applied and I'm just waiting on my disability to social security, same thing, they turned me down the first time," Knackmuhs said.
Homeless veterans have it especially tough during the winter. At the event they could pick up things like free blankets and gloves to get them through those colder months. Volunteers also passed out clothes, shoes, coats, and sleeping bags. A full schedule of seminars was open to vets along with free medical exams.
"Everything here will help a veteran out," Knackmuhs said,
Goodwill has many free programs for veterans year-round. They range from computer classes to help finding a job. For more information call (309) 682-1113 or visit Goodwill's website.