New Mexico veteran reaches out to his own

Posted at: 03/25/2013 9:20 AM
Updated at: 03/25/2013 12:57 PM
By: Heather Mills, KOB Eyewitness News 4

A New Mexico veteran is reaching out to his fellow comrades. He served his country and now he's serving men and women in need with his charity, Heroes Walk Among Us.

"We have over 179,000 Veterans living in New Mexico," said Shane D'Onofrio. He's one of them.

"When our veterans sign up for the military, it's kind of like writing a blank check, up to, basically giving their life for this country," D’Onofrio said. "When they're coming home, they need to make a withdrawal."

But, he says, that isn't happening fast enough. That's why he created a non-profit dedicated to serving the needs of our veterans, in a building behind his house.

"They can stay clean, get a job, get benefits, go through our five-step program," said D'Onofrio.

Right now, he's housing five veterans, including Allan Barnes.

Barnes came to New Mexico for a job, but things fell through and he ended up on the streets.

"It's really difficult dealing with crowds when you first come back," said Barnes.

Now he's working through those challenges, thanks to D'Onofrio. Inside the facility, there's a massage therapy room and a gym.

"We try to get the guys to focus their anger, hurt, pain on something else other than drugs, alcohol," D’Onofrio explained. There's also a computer room with plenty of donated laptops.

But, D'Onofrio's mission goes well beyond these walls. He's constantly searching for more veterans to help.

"Going out to the Bosque, finding guys. Going out, finding the guys on the streets."

For all that he's set out to accomplish, he remains humble in his commitment to his cause.

"I don't consider myself a hero. Look, these are my brothers and sisters."

D'Onofrio says he's honored by a gift given to him from a veteran he helped. It's a tactical-type military vest.

"For a guy to hand this to you and say our organization saved his life here, and this is what saved his life in Iraq, yeah, that means something to you. That's what this is about."

D'Onofrio says the organization has two goals for 2013. One, they want a hotel; a closed-campus to get vets off the streets.

They do have two options in mind. Their second goal is a thrift store. They want one where they not only sell items, but teach veterans how to work it, run it and learn a craft.

For more information visit the Heroes Walk Among Us website.