Camp Alpha established to help homeless vets

- A rather unusual camp is growing on a corner in the Sunnyslope neighborhood. It started with one tent in October, and now there are 12.

It even has a name: Camp Alpha. The goal is to help homeless veterans get off the streets.

Camp Alpha is located at the corner of 15th Avenue and Hatcher. It started in October and keeps growing as it reaches out to get the vets off the streets one step at a time. They are getting a lot of love from the nearby community.

For those who have served the sight of a field barracks tent is familiar, it's sprung up with a clear cut mission.

"We believe in not turning anyone away," said Aaron Pomrenke.

Pomrenke and two veterans founded the group that is helping to get the vets off the streets. Shane Lilly is one of those guys, he and his dog Kea were living in the desert until Pomrenke bought him and his dog to Camp Alpha.

"It gives you a breather, a chance to stop and breathe and get on your feet, 30 days from now I'll be fine, I got my pension coming in, I got social security," said Shane Lilly.

Things are neat and organized at the camp, the way the military likes it. A tent for clothing is sorted in one spot, canned goods in another, and there is a command tent and medical tent.

So where did the camp get its supplies? The community and other veteran organizations have stepped up and dropped off tents, food, clothing, and supplies.

The generosity of the community is astounding to Pomrenke. There are 14 vets who sleep at the camp nightly, but dozens more will come by during the day. Some are looking for a warm meal or just a safe, warm place to stay and rest. Someone to help get their benefits from the VA.

Whatever they need, big or small, volunteers try to help.

"They fought for our freedom, so we're trying to give back any way we can, we're fighting the good fight for them now," said Pomrenke.

Initially, the camp was there just for veterans, but they are not turning anyone away. The group is giving away meals and pet supplies to anyone in need.

Volunteers also make sure vets get to appointments they need, and will help them figure out VA benefits and some of the other government paperwork.

So what does the group need? Pomrenke says warm clothes for both men and women. They also need bed mats, sleeping mats, tarps, and nonperishable foods.

They also want to thank everyone who has rallied around the camp and the veterans.

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