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Valley veteran homeless for decades reunited with sister after 40 years

Posted at 10:32 PM, Jan 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-25 00:32:45-05

PHOENIX — A veteran living on Valley streets for decades was reunited his sister after 40 years.

Stephanie and Al Blackbird found Alan Vandevander at a Whole Foods in North Scottsdale in December. He was weak, hungry, and in need of serious medical care.

The Blackbirds helped get him from the desert he'd been living in for decades to a hospital.

After doing some research, the couple located Alan's sister, Julie Vandevander, to let her know her brother was alive and in Arizona.

"I mean we looked for him for years and finally we came to a point where we just couldn’t find him," said Julie.

Julie booked a flight from Indianapolis to Phoenix shortly afterward and finally saw her brother Wednesday.

“I walked in the room and it was over," she said. "I dropped my purse, I ran over to him, I got on his bed with him and I hugged him. There was no thinking anymore it was natural.”

It's a reunion she never thought she'd get with her older brother after so many years.

“It’s just an odd feeling because he was gone, he was gone to me," Vandevander said.

The two talked about their family, even neighbors they both remembered when they were growing up.

Julie says she's happy to see her brother getting care after living in the desert for so long, and has the Blackbirds to thank for their help in bringing them back together.

“It’s wonderful, it’s strange, it’s exciting," she added. "It’s this miracle, who would have ever thought this was going to happen ever?"

A GoFundMe has also been set up to help Alan along his journey.