BOSTON - John DeGraff is a U.S. Navy veteran. For the last 11 years, he’s been living in a handmade tent in the woods of Boston. But not anymore.
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On Saturday, John was welcomed into temporary housing at the Volunteers of America Veterans Center, according to an update from Disabled and Limbless Veterans.
Mike McNulty and Dom Marcellino, both of Disabled and Limbless Veterans first introduced Boston 25’s Bob Ward to John. The Navy veteran welcomed him into his makeshift home in the woods, showing how he lived each day.
Tucked into the corners of the tent were John's food supplies, clothes, pots and pans. In the middle of the floor was a fire pit just steps from John's bed. Now, with the help of Mike and Dom, John will be able to move out of the woods for the first time in over a decade.
Both McNulty and Marcellino are veterans themselves – both served in the Vietnam War. Through their efforts, Mike and Dom are able to help John and others like him.
The pair estimates there are up to 200 other John DeGraffs living in cars or in the woods of Massachusetts, invisible to most of us.
"They're out there," Mike, the founder of the organization, explained to Bob Ward when he told John's story. "A lot of these guys don't want to go to the shelters."
"We still see people fall through the cracks, just for the fact that they are stubborn, they are self-sufficient. They are proud and they won't put their hand out for anything," Dom, the organization president, added.
But, Mike and Dom were helping John before they got him into housing.
They visited him and brought him food. They took him to the VA and to whatever government assistance was available. They were trying to get John into the system and out of the woods.
"There isn't a veteran who should be living under these conditions," Mike said. "These are guys who fought for their country. Why are they in a situation like this?"
Mike and Dom were working with John to to find him a place to live too.
They all succeeded, leaving no one behind.
If you would like to learn more about Disabled and Limbless Veterans, or to help them out with a donation, go to www.dlvets.org.
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