Former Secretary of State and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Colin Powell met with homeless veterans that live at St. Francis House in Little Rock on Tuesday, Aug. 30. He thanked the veterans for their service, answered their questions, and shared his philosophy for a successful life. Powell said “We all fail at something every day. The only thing we can do is learn from it, take responsibility for it, and always say, I can do better tomorrow.”
Powell also challenged the veterans to be role models. He told them his story: His parents were immigrants; he was born in Harlem in New York City and raised in the South Bronx. Powell said he has a public school education, and he found his life in the Army. Powell said foreign generals and diplomats he met as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and later as Secretary of State were surprised he was not a graduate of West Point or a prestigious military school like The Citadel. He said he reminded these same foreign officials he is black, and wouldn’t have been accepted at The Citadel.
Powell said he and his wife of 49 years, Alma, still dedicate time to the youth programs they have been involved with for the past 15 years. He told the vets “I am honored to be in your presence. There is a role for you in life. Earn a living, take care of your families, because that is the most important thing in life.”
St. Francis House is home to 51 homeless veterans. The veterans are referred to the program by the Veterans Administration and the V.A. Hospital. The majority of the veterans who live at St. Francis House served during the Vietnam era, but every conflict, including the current Iraq war is represented. Female veterans are also represented in the population with their children.