Some missions last a day, some a month, some a lifetime. For Veterans on Patrol, helping homeless veterans is their vocation 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The group just recently established a new camp in Mesa, Arizona, ABC 15 reported, that bears the signs of a military operation – rigid tents and an American flag.
"Homeless veterans coming – when they see military structures like this – it's a familiarity with them," Lewis Arthur, co-founder of Veterans on Patrol, told the news channel. Arthur said that he hoped veterans seeking shelter would soon find the tents stocked with donations from the Arizona community.
"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 continued.
While Mesa may be the group's newest location, it certainly isn't their first. According to Tucson News Now, back in December Veterans on Patrol was going out of its way to put a roof over the head of homeless veterans who had somehow slipped through the cracks in their life after service and who weren't receiving aid.
"In Tucson, we've found 18 veterans so far that are either not in the system or the VA themselves are looking for them," Arthur said at the time.
Mesa's camp now brings the total Veterans on Patrol sites in Arizona to four. Operating with a team of dedicated volunteers, the group posts requests for the items it needs to Facebook, then relies on donations from the community to fulfill them. But there's more to the operation than just handing out supplies.
"Once we develop a relationship with them, if they need help transitioning, we'll help them," Arthur told ABC 15. "If they want to stay homeless, we'll gear them up good."