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Denver Air Force veteran inspired to help others after experiencing homelessness

By Michael Abeyta

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    DENVER (KCNC) — On Sunday afternoon Andrew Canales’ Homeless Outreach Team was in downtown Denver handing out warm weather essentials to people experiencing homelessness.

He is the CEO of Houses for Warriors, and helping the unhoused is part of his organization’s mission. Andrew does it because he knows how it feels to live on the street.

“It feels very low. It’s hard,” he said.

He’s a 6-year Air Force veteran who served two combat tours in Iraq. He was in an accident and broke both legs. Because of that, he became unhoused.

Eventually he got his VA benefits and his situation improved, but it was an experience that affected him profoundly. He decided he never wants another veteran to struggle the way he did.

He founded Houses for Warriors originally to do renovation and remodel work for veterans and hand out supplies to the unhoused of Denver.

“I’m able to give back and help people get out of situations I was in myself,” he said.

Just this past summer he opened a transition house for veterans.

“With the intention of getting veterans off the street and into trades, into construction into jobs and the ones that aren’t able to do that we get them their benefits, help them get disability and everything they need to stay stable,” he said.

He and his team were not only handing out clothes and jackets Sunday, they were also looking for vets who need a hand. The few that have graduated from his program have benefitted immediately.

“They think that we are saving their lives but we just give them the tools and opportunity to change their own,” Andrew said.

He says helping these men and women is his life’s calling.

“I try to be the person that I needed the most,” Andrew said.

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