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One of the only things colder than the temperature outside at midnight of late, is the stark reality that there are so many people with no place to call home. Many, the same brave men and women who served our country and fought for our rights, now find themselves homeless and hopeless.
Who is fighting for them?
The Vet Hunters Project is a San Gabriel Valley based non-profit that was founded by Joe Leal, an Iraq combat veteran and tireless advocate for America’s homeless heroes.
Together, with a dedicated and determined army of Vet Hunters, Leal is shedding light on a population that oftentimes tries to remain hidden while changing the lives of hundreds of underserved and neglected veterans across the country.
“We conduct daily search and rescue missions of our displaced veterans throughout the country and connect them to the resources and knowledge they need by bringing it to where they are,” said Leal, whose office is wherever the veterans are whether it be on the streets, by railroad tracks, under bridges or in broken down cars. “We take the word homeless away from veterans through action.”
Actions that include visiting homeless veterans at cold weather shelters, December through February, when the outside elements become particularly harsh.
Such was the case last week when The Vet Hunters made several late night early morning trips to the cold weather shelter at St. Dorothy’s Catholic Church in Glendora.
On Wednesday December 18 alone, the Vet Hunters distributed $240.00 in bus passes, clothing, socks, hygiene kits, jackets and most importantly “love, respect and hope” to local homeless veterans. Leal’s efforts are so comprehensive they include not only advising veterans of their rights and service due to them but bringing the paperwork and helping them register with the Veterans Administration on site.
Kevin D. George, an Azusa resident and partner in The George Group in South Pasadena, is also a Vet Hunter.
“I left the other night elated that we were able to help reconnect so many Veterans with the services that they deserve and have earned by serving our country. But became disheartened that they went without for so long,” said George who devotes much of his time working alongside Leal and assisting the organization with the day to day issues that need to be addressed. “It’s heartbreaking.”
“The ones that are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones that do,” added Leal. “If it is a homeless veteran issue, it is an American issue. We will leave no veteran behind.”
People are encouraged to help The Vet Hunters Project in any way they are able including tax-deductible financial donations as well as food, clothing and vehicles. 100% of the donations go to helping the homeless veterans.
More information can be found at www.vethunters.org or on Facebook at The Vet Hunters Project.