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'That number is not unmanageable': American Legion and local veterans help out homeless vets

How the American Legion and local veterans are working to put an end to veteran homelessness
Posted at 4:54 PM, Mar 14, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-14 20:21:41-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — 857 veterans across the state of Arizona are homeless.

And according to VA Acting Homeless Program Manager Angie Hamilton, 232 of those vets are here in Tucson.

But veteran groups across the state are working to get that number down to zero.

“We have the ability to do that for veterans specifically, and get them pointed in the right direction to not be homeless in the future," said Steve Sperl, State Commander of the Arizona American Legion.

Sperl is working with his posts across the state to make that number more manageable.

“I believe we could help lower that number to single digits,” said Sperl.

But one vet in Marana has been working for his fellow veterans since he got out of the service 24 years ago.

"Working with people is very important because when you work with people, they work back with you," said Louis Zavecz, a navy veteran.

Zavecz says he worked with two different homeless vets in the last few weeks to help get them on their feet, and going in the right direction.

“I came in here, and the gentleman was waiting for me. And he was homeless. So that night happened to be burger night. So I bought a burger for him,” said Zavecz.

His other interaction was with an older veteran. Who he says is also heading in the right direction.

“They're all good fellas, man they are, they just are lost and need a place, you know,” said Zavecz.

Resources for veterans are available at multiple different sources.

The VA national call centerhas numbers for veterans and people who know veterans to call.

Past reporting also highlighted a veteran stand down event held by Tucson Veterans Serving Veterans.

Blake Phillips is a reporter for KGUN 9. Originally from St. Louis, Mo., Blake grew up in Sierra Vista. During his college tenure at the Missouri School of Journalism, Blake worked for the NBC affiliate KOMU-TV in Columbia. He is excited to return to a place he calls home and give back to the community in which he grew up. Share your story ideas and important issues with Blake by emailing