A Bronx Marine is still on a mission, this time to save his fellow veterans, even after facing an uphill battle. Borough reporter Erin Clarke has that story.
When Gonzalo Duran returned to the Bronx after eight years in the Marines, including a tour in Iraq, he was homeless.
"There is a lot of benefits for us when we get back but how we get to utilize it is very difficult," Duran said. "I tried to get apartments, but because it was nontaxable (Basic Allowance for Housing) money through my educational benefits (with the Department of Defense) it was denied by many realtors."
Five years later Duran is back on his feet, but so many other veterans are not.
Duran vowed help them by starting a charity — Devil Dog, USA Incorporated.
Its mission is to provide veterans with resources and recreational activities to help them in their transition into civilian life.
"The jacket, the coat, everything I'm wearing, they're all donated by Devil Dog," said Marine Corps veteran Frank Davila. "They also help me with food."
"We get them housing and we get them employment," Duran said.
The organization has faced many ups and downs. When we first met Duran in 2014, he was transforming his late father's home into transitional housing for vets.
But there was a lien on the house that he could not pay, so he lost it. Duran now operates out of a new location that's rent free.
Through donations, Devil Dog USA is also able to offer free scuba, tennis and golf lessons for vets.
"We've held three to eight events per month for the last twelve months," Duran noted.
Things seemed to be looking up, but then last weekend, someone broke into the Devil Dog SUV, stealing a laptop, cameras and video equipment worth thousands of dollars.
While the robbery was yet another setback for Devil Dog USA, Duran is still optimistic about the organization's future.
He's says he wants to expand.
"We have liaisons in Hawaii, Texas, Colorado, New Jersey and Connecticut," Duran said. "As soon as this problem that we have right now is resolved I can start focusing on building the brand of Devil Dog in each of those locations."
The goal — the same as it was five years ago — that no veteran suffers like he did.