PHOTOS: Veteran experiencing homelessness moves on from encampment outside Denver’s Morey Middle School – The Denver Post

“It’s no wonder a lot of homeless [people] are veterans. We are trained to live like this. I’m a soldier. I’m comfortable out here,” said 29-year-old Michael Gray Edwards. While packing up his belongings, he talked about serving two combat tours in Afghanistan as an Army Ranger. Edwards, who goes by Gray on the street, had been living in a homeless encampment outside Morey Middle School in Denver’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.

The camp started to empty on Monday as advocates and city workers urged residents to move out before the city takes more aggressive action to clear the area.

As rumors of a sweep made their way around the camp, Edwards planned to pack up and move his belongings to another location. “I’m not quite sure where I’m going. I don’t plan like that,” said Edwards. “It’s sad that a veteran can’t even sleep on a piece of dirt on public property after fighting for the rights of all Americans.”

Edwards kept a few things from his time in the service. One is a rucksack that belonged to his best friend, Thomas Lee. Edwards said that Lee joined the Army with him after he got in trouble in Tennessee and had only two options – one, to enlist, or two, to spend time behind bars. So that’s when, according to Edwards, they both began their careers as soldiers. Edwards said his friend was killed in Afghanistan.

“Carrying his pack helps me remember to be a better man,” said Edwards. He said he is trying to better himself and that he “walked away from heroin cold turkey,” which he used for many years. Now he claims he is clean and he is trying to work with the VA to get housing.

With bags already in hand, Edwards swung the strap of Lee’s green army rucksack over his shoulder and made a face under the stress of the weight. He grabbed his bike and headed away from the school.

“All this weight makes me flashback — if you know what I mean,” he said, referring to all the gear he wore during combat.

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