The guy with the ‘homeless vet’ sign really is a homeless vet

William Tentis, 64, is one of the many people who hold cardboard signs around St. Paul.

His says “Veteran.10 yrs Army. God Bless.”

It’s been five years since he’s held a job — Honeywell, he says — and said “to hell with everybody” after his marriage ended.

KARE 11 has his story and that of Eric Reetz, a St. Paul cop who is also an Iraq war veteran, who wasn’t convinced Tentis really was a veteran until he asked him questions only a vet could answer.

“I gave him 20 bucks, I said, ‘Thank you for your service,’ and didn’t think I’d ever see the guy again,” he tells KARE’s Boyd Huppert.

But there he was, outside the next Minnesota Wild game where Tentis told him he spent the money on pork chops and food.

“I went to the ATM, handed him another 20 bucks, and said, here you go,” Reetz said.

It didn’t stop there.

(Video link)

  • Al

    I give money. I give to programs addressing homelessness upstream, too, but I give money to the guy on the corner. I can’t assume I know what’s going on in his life, and that it’s anything like mine. Maybe a little money helps.

  • Jeff C.

    Sometimes I see someone with a sign, asking for “anything” and I wonder “what” they are. Are they homeless? A veteran? A con-artist? A drunk? A druggie? A victim of spousal abuse? A mother? A son? A convict? A gambler? A person with a mental illness? A person who was born into poverty and has never known another life? A person who is worthy of the granola bar I keep in my glove compartment? Then I remember that it doesn’t matter. They are a human being. I roll down the window, give them the granola bar, treat them humanely for a second, and then drive away, slightly ashamed that I didn’t do more.

  • Kassie

    I’ve stated this before and will again, I never give money to “homeless” on the street. I had a client tell me he made $1600 a month panhandling, this was 15 years ago. He was taking home more money than I was at the time. At that same job, I was a smoker. We would stand in the back of the building and watch the panhandlers take in money from 10 cars during our 15 minute break. Panhandlers can make good money with minimal work. They are often not homeless.

    And don’t get me started on those who just need $20 bucks for a bus ticket. Pretty much anyone can get a bus ride out of here for free.

    I give money monthly to Youthlink. They help homeless youth, who are most vulnerable, get off the street. They are a great organization with demonstrated success. Want to help homeless Vets? Try the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans. You could also give to St. Stephen’s which does great outreach work with homeless people. You can also contact them is you see a homeless person who appears vulnerable.

  • Paul

    Hell of a story.

  • MrE85

    I saw a similar “signer” wearing some surplus store fake military gear. I didn’t question him, but I certainly had my doubts. I should have asked him if he still had his DD Form 214. If he give me a blank stare, it is unlikely the really served.
    That doesn’t mean the poor guy don’t need our help or compassion, just the same.