Helping homeless veterans is Bill Breyer’s passion
Vietnam veteran Ron Green,left, and Bill Breyer move a section of the traveling Vietnam Wall in 2016.
R. Norman Moody
Bill Breyer likes to hang around local church food pantries. No, he is not caging for some free food, but rather he is there to help the homeless veterans who often visit these facilities when meals are scarce.
“You know they’re in bad shape,” said Breyer, who is a team member of the National Homeless Veterans Support, a group of volunteers who give of their time to identify homeless veterans and help them get back on their feet.
“I go to the food pantries and wait for the veterans in need,” said Breyer, an Indian Harbour Beach resident.
He will talk with these men and women, get their permission to help and work to place them in one of the transitional housing units the Brevard-based grassroots organization operates throughout the county. The group also provides employment assistance.
“He does search and rescue on the beaches and does an outstanding job for us,” said George Taylor Sr., the founder of NHVS.
Breyer, who doesn’t give up until he finds all the assistance homeless veterans in need, is a veteran himself. In 1964, two weeks after graduating from Stetson University, Breyer received a note from the U.S. Army requesting his immediate involvement.
“I got drafted,” Breyer said.
His unit was headed for Vietnam when orders changed and Breyer was shipped along with 2,500 more GIs on a troop ship to Germany. It was a voyage he would never forget.
“It was in the middle of winter and we encountered a terrible storm and everyone got sick,” he said.
The soldiers were asked to stay out on the deck while the ship was cleaned.
“We had to stand elbow to elbow to keep warm and stay away from the waves,” he said.
After serving in Germany as part of the line of defense from a potential attack from the communists, Breyer left the service to embark on a career that included working for decades in range safety at Patrick Air Force Base. He retired in 2009, but never forgot the military.
In addition to his work with NHVS, Breyer, along with his wife, Sheila, have served as escorts for veterans visiting Washington military monuments as part of the Honor Flight program.
His efforts have helped NHVS achieve, in just a little more than a decade, close to a 90-percent reduction in the number of homeless vets in Brevard.