As many of our readers know, Devil Dogs USA Inc. is a Bronx-based non-profit, founded by veteran Gonzalo Duran, that has helped scores of veterans transition from military to civilian life by helping to provide housing, education assistance, employment opportunities, recreational activities, legal help, and more. Veterans transitioning to civilian life often meet many hurdles, and Devil Dogs has been there to help make the change.
As a leader in Bronx veterans affairs, Gonzalo has been recognized by many organizations, including the Bronx Chamber of Commerce who recently honored him at a Veterans’ Recognition event.
Starting the organization after experiencing his own troubles in transitioning, at times having to live out of his car, he operated out of a college library before opening their first office in Belmont.
Unfortunately, due to funding issues, the organization is currently strapped for cash, and needs $45,000 to keep their doors open to veterans in need.
“All of the veterans who have walked through these doors are sad and upset,” Gonzalo stated. It’s clear that this possible closure is heavy on his heart.
Devil Dogs has also been an active and passionate member of the Bronx community at large. Many of our readers will remember that our own Democratic Primary Public Forum for the Assembly 78th District was graciously hosted at their office after a previous upset. Additionally, Gonzalo has hosted recreational activities open to the public to help foster friendships between local veterans and their communities.
Speaking on how the organization will operate moving forward, Gonzalo said, “As an organization, it will set us back in all of our projects. We will be able to keep our recreation programs on a quarterly basis, but the resources will be almost completely diminished.”
He is still focused on the issues at hand, however, as Devil Dogs is currently running a coat drive and a food drive for poor and homeless vets.
They had also recently finished a toy drive working with partner organization “Garifuna Veterans of America” to distribute toys to children at the Sojourner Truth house.Somberly reflecting on last year’s toy drive, Gonzalo notes, “Because of the funding issues, we had to limit the size of the drive this year. Last year, we gave thousands of toys to churches and other organizations in the Bronx that often go without donations.”
On the role Devil Dogs plays, Gonzalo said, “The Bronx doesn’t have enough veterans’ representation, and desperately needs it. As a borough, we have multiple shelters filled with veterans, and universities with returning veteran students, but no place to conjugate in a community environment”
Indeed, visit the Devil Dogs office at any time and the scene is usually local veterans, either receiving assistance, participating in recreational activities such as playing cards or pool, or just talking.
Gonzalo has been dedicated to helping fellow veterans in whatever way he can, and it’s clear that although this may be a major hurdle, the show will go on.
If you would like to support the effort to keep Devil Dogs USA open, you can make a donation at their GoFundMe page.