Homeless vets proud of service

Posted at: 05/27/2013 10:06 PM | Updated at: 05/28/2013 9:17 AM
By: Maria Guerrero, KOB Eyewitness News 4

As we pause to honor those who’ve died while serving our country, we don’t want to forget about those who are still living.

The number of homeless veterans in Albuquerque varies. Some organizations report 200; others estimate there are 750 homeless veterans in Albuquerque on any given day.

William Roper spent Memorial Day outside with his family, but amid the laughter, he reflects on the meaning of this holiday.

“It's real hard especially when you got to look back and you see friends, comrades in arms, you see them fall every day," said Roper wiping away tears.

Roper is an Army veteran. He says he was deployed several times, including to Iraq in 2003. He then came home and got a job.

"Being new on the roster, I was one of the ones who got cut and it's been impossible to find a job since," he said.

And that has led him, his wife and their four kids to Joy Junction.

Navy veteran, David Hutchinson is also at Joy Junction with his family.

"Past three years have been first I haven't worked since I was 16. I'm 33 so it’s been…,” said Hutchinson.

This is what Memorial Day means to him.

“[It’s] about the sacrifice that our men and women do every day. I got two younger brothers that are deployed right now in Afghanistan," said Hutchinson.

Roberta Gordon is among the estimated 240 people at the shelter Monday afternoon.

Gordon hasn’t lost her sense of humor despite some tough times.

And she’s also proud of her service in the 70s.

“There are very few people that have acknowledged that I'm a veteran,” said Gordon. “They don't realize this is me. I didn't just find this in a dumpster. This is me. And it's in here. I served my country and I did it out of pride.”

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, fewer veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan are homeless compared to veterans who came before them.

But Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans have a higher rate of post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.

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