“I didn’t have a home before”: Albuquerque is helping heroes in crisis

Community Reports

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Shane D’Onofrio, founder of “Heroes Walk Among Us,” is putting out a call to action. He’s asking people in Albuquerque to reach out and help heroes in crisis. Heroes Walk Among Us is focused on helping veterans and their families. It does everything from handing out holiday dinner kits, to helping unemployed veterans secure jobs.

Right now, D’Onofrio is working to restore a set of housing units off Central on 48th Street. With help from volunteers, the triplex will eventually house seven veterans for free, while they get back on their feet.

The units are separate, but share a backyard with a grill, horseshoe pit, and patio. D’Onofrio says those features will help the residents find the camaraderie they’ve been missing since they left the armed forces.

They want the camaraderie, they lost the brotherhood.

Shane d’onofrio, heroes walk among us

Those chosen for the program are referred to Heroes Walk Among Us by caseworkers at the VA. It’s a system that’s working to give veterans access to everything they need, all in one place.

That includes the Beacon Crisis Center, where veterans struggling with suicidal or violent thoughts can go, any time, any day for help. Suicide prevention experts say building community bonds, and having a sense of belonging, can make life-saving changes in the lives of veterans.

Creating strong communities where people know their neighbor… it’s that kind of community connection that prevents suicide later.

Brenda Mayne, Suicide Prevention, VA Hopsital

Right now, D’Onofrio is looking for volunteers to help finish construction on the units in southwest Albuquerque, but his organization needs help all year round. To find out how you can help, click here.

The VA hospital also offers a variety of volunteer opportunities, but workers also suggest inviting veterans you know to your neighborhood barbecue, family game night, or church service. They say that small gesture of inclusion can make all the difference in the life of a veteran struggling with P.T.S.D. loneliness or financial hard times.

Mayor Tim Keller and the city of Albuquerque are also participating in the Mayor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide Among Service Members, Veterans and their Families. Through that pledge, a group of officials and civilians meet the first Wednesday of every month at the Los Duranes Community Center at 2920 Leopoldo Rd NW in Albuquerque. The group meets from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. to discuss new ways to integrate veterans into the One Albuquerque Community.

To learn more about this initiative you can reach out to Thomas Tozier, Constituent Services Representative/Military and Veteran Liaison, at ttozier@cabq.gov or (505) 768-3382.

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