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Stories From Main Street: Veterans In Rockland County Team Up To Provide Housing For Their Brethren

TAPPAN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Seventy years after the end of World War II in Europe, Rockland County Legislator John Murphy says Camp Shanks in Tappan is sacred ground.

"When there were 2,200 acres taken over by the Army, (it was) largest port of embarkation. Everybody going to fight the Nazis in Germany had to come through this site," Murphy told WCBS 880's Sean Adams. "They spent six weeks here."

About 1.3 million soldiers passed through Camp Shanks, also known as "Last Stop USA."

Veterans In Rockland County Team Up To Provide Housing For Their Brethren

No longer a military installation, what's left of the property is now home to homeless, displaced and disabled veterans.

Murphy, a former Marine, and several other veterans scraped together the money to build eight rental garden apartments, known as the Homes for Heroes project.

"One out of every 20 homeless persons in America is a veteran, and yes, they live in the shadows, and yes, they don't ask for things," Murphy said. "One of the veterans now living here ... lived in his automobile for one year."

Volunteer Tom Micelli, an Army veteran, is a former official with the Rockland County Health Department.

"We're looking for funding to help us build more units, another eight at a time," he said. "We have the acreage here, but they're not cheap."

Habitat for Humanity renovated the old PX and made it into a community center.

Social workers check in to make sure the veterans receive the services they need.

"I plan it to be a living memorial -- many of those 1.3 (million) GIs never made it back to America," Murphy said.

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