EL MONTE (CBSLA.com) — It takes a village — to also help military families.

Such a village is being set up in El Monte for the next three days.

The community will help serve vets in need of housing, work, counseling, clothing and food.

Scores of organizations are taking part, including the Red Cross, Goodwill, Bark Therapy Dogs, California Department of Veteran Affairs, Vet to Vet and God Provides Food Bank.

CBS2 and KCAL9 reporter Melissa McCarty toured the village Friday and talked to veterans about what the village will mean to them.

James Bon-Nell is a Navy vet who lose his leg after he stepped on a land mine. “I’m living in a park,” he said.

He’s been lost in the system. Homeless and in need of medical attention, Bon-Nell is also bi-polar. And he’s been diagnosed with schizophrenia. “We put our lives on the line, for what? You care for us? Show us!”

He’s not alone in that sentiment. McCarty spoke to Vietnam vet Bill Hutchison. “They don’t work fast enough to help us,” he said.

Joel Leal, with the Vet Hunters Project, a non-profit group, makes it his daily mission to find and help homeless vets. “We have a saying — no red tape is how we operate. What you see today is not just words, it’s action.”

The 2nd annual “Heroes in the Shadows” will be held through Sunday at Whittier Narrows Park (across from the US Army Reserve Center on Potero Ave. in South El Monte). An employment resource fair runs Saturday from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

For a link to the San Gabriel Valley Veterans Employment Committee (mentioned in McCarty’s report) click here.


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