by Sarah Forgany / KENS 5
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Posted on December 16, 2010 at 9:08 AM
Updated today at 9:29 AM
SAN ANTONIO -- There are lots of happy stories this time of year about soldiers returning from war, but once that battle ends, another one begins.
That is the fight to support loved ones here at home.
Commander Luis Cortes with the Disabled American Veterans KEL-LAC Chapter says more and more Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans are becoming homeless each day.
Cortes says many soldiers return from war and training with disabilities and medical conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). As a result, the veterans can't find jobs and can't support their families.
Cortest says it can take six months to a year to get benefits for veterans, and by that time, he says, their homes are in the process of foreclosure.
"There is a lot of red tape. It's not like you'll get out and get retirement checks. It doesn't work like that," Cortes said.
Rudy Gonzales was an E4 Specialist for the U.S. Army, but he said when he returned from Iraq five years ago, he was denied his benefits.Gonzales said he suffered from PTSD and back fractures.
"When I got back, I was told by the military that I didn't have any disability and that I don't have any compensation due," Gonzales said.
He said he was forced to stay with relatives and worked several jobs to support his family. It took several years, but the said the Disabled American Veterans Organization finally helped him get some of his benefits.
"Guys in Desert Storm, guys in Iraq... It's my guys who are the new veterans, if you will. We're the ones having the problems now," Gonzales said.
Commander Cortes says many of the veterans who are struggling to survive now are the young men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
As a result, the DAV KEL-LAC Chapter is doing everything in their power to help the new generation of veterans.
On Wednesday, the chapter collected nearly 200 toys with the help of the real estate industry in San Antonio.
The toys went to veterans and their families who are in need.