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24-hour shelter set up downtown to help homeless vets

TUCSON – To help the veterans who have fallen on difficult times, Veteran Rescue Mission has set up a 24-hour shelter in downtown Tucson.

The shelter, which was set up in the beginning of April, offers a variety of services to help the homeless veteran population of southern Arizona.

Kirk Combs was in the Navy. The 58-year-old was responsible for maintaining the ship.

He now has a different assignment – taking caring of the shelter.

“We’re here to let the city know the homeless population and the veteran’s population isn’t going anywhere,” Combs said. “We are here and we need help.”

Combs was among the first people to ask the Veteran’s Rescue Mission for help. He is now on a housing waiting list in the meantime.

He is now helping others.

“People have helped me out in different ways through the years,” Combs said. “Now, it’s my turn to help somebody else.”

Jon McClain is the person responsible for starting the Veteran’s Rescue Mission. Since 2017, the non-profit organization has been working on helping area veterans.

“We provide cots for people from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. every night,” he said. “Survival needs clothes, food, water during the day.”

The Iraq war veteran said he was homeless for five years. In 2011, he was responsible for Safe Park where homeless people camped out downtown and caused major problems. McClain said he was arrested on drug charges.

He said since then, he has turned his life around.

“I got housing. I got a job at the VA. I got situated with counseling and disability,” he said. “I used a lot of that money and that energy to become an ordained pastor and start this church so I could take my experience and pass it on.”

He also works at Sonora House La Frontera, where he can take people who are not veterans and get them help.

“Get showers, do laundry, get food, speak with a caseworker and they can get plugged in that way,” he said.

EDITOR’S NOTE: News 4 Tucson web content producer Anthony Victor Reyes contributed to this story.

Lupita Murillo

Lupita Murillo

Lupita Murillo is an investigative reporter. She is part of the Digging Deeper team that uncovers important issues focusing on crime that affects the community.
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