Mesa group sets up camp to help homeless vets

Posted at 4:52 PM, Jan 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-13 20:53:36-05

A group in Mesa has set up camp to help homeless veterans, and it's an around-the-clock operation.

Veterans on Patrol put up their tents Tuesday night in an empty lot near McKellips Road and Country Club Drive. A large American flag draped their military-style tents.

"Homeless veterans coming--when they see military structures like this--it's a familiarity with them," Veterans on Patrol co-founder Lewis Arthur said. He hopes to have the tents filled with donations soon.

The Mesa location is the group’s newest. They have three other locations in Arizona.

"So, if a vet comes walking down this street at 3 o'clock in the morning, he'll see the flag lit up at nighttime in the camp and he knows he can walk over here to get food, water and a blanket," Arthur said.

Veterans on Patrol operates with the help of volunteers. They post lists of items they need on Facebook, and the community responds. But they want to help homeless veterans with more than just supplies.

"Once we develop a relationship with them, if they need help transitioning, we'll help them. If they want to stay homeless, we'll gear them up good," Arthur said.

The group said they aren't just waiting for people to come to them.

"We found his camp. We know where he is. We just have to find him physically again," member Jay Heath said.

Heath took ABC15 to the riverbed along the Loop 202, by Dobson Road, where he tried to find a veteran he knows lives there. As a veteran himself, he wants to do what he can and offer the homeless veteran help.

"I was lucky enough to have family that would take me in and help me out when I was jobless," Heath said.

Veterans on Patrol focuses on homeless veterans, but group members said they'll help any person in need in Mesa. The group hopes to one day have a camp set up in each city in the state.