Veteran helps homeless vets on Independence Day

Posted at 5:53 PM, Jul 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-04 17:53:25-04

Thomas Brown is never off duty. At 12:30 in the afternoon, on a holiday, he was navigating through the woods with his therapy dog, Dozer, looking for a homeless veteran named Roger.

"You know it's the Fourth of July, right?" I asked Brown. He was quick to respond. "I should be barbecuing! But they have a Fourth of July too and they served honorably, most of them. So If I can help, I help them," he said with a smile.

This is what Brown does everyday. His focus is getting homeless veterans connected with the VA and housing options. Although he is quick to hand out food and supplies to any needy homeless person who may ask.

Still, on this day, he was on a mission to find Roger. Brown says Roger has potentially severe health problems. He wants to get Roger to the hospital.

About 5 minutes into the search, Brown runs into an energetic man who goes by the name Froggy. Froggy says he knows Roger. He takes Brown's card and, within a minute, Roger approaches on a bicycle.

"There he is," Brown said.

Their conversation was fairly brief and very emotional. Brown tells Roger he'll pay for a hotel for the night and take him to the hospital to be checked out. Roger, with tears in his eyes, agrees. Brown throws his bicycle onto the back of his pickup truck and they drive off.

Brown is an Army veteran himself. He works for Tampa Crossroads as their Veteran Outreach Coordinator, but he also has his own non-profit called Tampa Homeless Outreach. He says his goal is to get every veteran in Hillsborough County off the street.

"It may not ever happen, but I'm going to try," he said.

Until then, he plans to work through many more weekends and holidays.