Counting Tucson's homeless vetsPosted: Updated:
TUCSON, Ariz. -- Counting the amount of homeless people can be a never ending task, but volunteers at the VA hospital in Tucson get out there every two years to do it.
And what they're finding is more and more veterans who put their lives on the line for this country are now walking the streets.
Just off the I-10 freeway Danny McConnell sets up camp. He's been there for 2 weeks.
"I've adapted my lifestyle so I can survive outside like this," said McConnell.
That adaption took place 35 years ago, shortly after he got out of the military.
"I served from from 1979-1984, in the army," said McConnell.
He's in Tucson because there's a VA hospital nearby. It's where he goes for treatment and where he met Mark Jensen.
"One of the predominant groups we're focusing on is vets," said Jensen.
Jensen is a social worker at the VA hospital and Wednesday he was out counting people like Danny.
The government conducts a homeless count every two years to determine funding for facilities that help the homeless.
"There are a lot of vets that are homeless but as far as it being a problem its just more of them getting the services and getting able to obtain resources," said Jensen.
Right now, Jensen believes 20% of the homeless population in the U.S. is made of former military.
"Most these guys are real survivors its just more frustrating that we don't have the resources to house all of them," said Jensen.
Danny is getting the help he needs, but living on the street is his way of life, retired vet or not.
"I get up every morning knowing that I've been helped and the only thing the lord expects me is whats given to me to try and give it back," said Jensen.
The department of veterans affairs would like to end veteran homelessness in five years.
In 2009 there were nearly 107,000 homeless vets throughout the U.S.