SOUTH BEND — The reality of coming home was much different for many other vets. More than a quarter of a million of them now live without a home every year, and nearly one-third of all homeless Americans served in the armed forces at one time. In the South Bend area, estimates are even higher. One local group is fighting to turn the trend around. On a bitter cold and snowy February day, Danny Forrest is walking back to his former home to relive a nightmare. “I had four or five blankets, boots and a coat,” said Forrest. “And I stayed there and slept there. It’s emotional to even be back down here. I can remember crying myself to sleep at night, wondering ‘how did I end up here?'" The answer begins in 1948 when 23-year-old U.S Army Corporal Danny Forrest entered the military. Two tours in Panama and 10 years of honorable service later, he was discharged. He got a good job earning $18 an hour and bought a house. All was good until almost overnight, it all came crashing down. “I lost my job. All my money was gone,” he said. “My home was foreclosed. When something like that happens to you, you’re a total wreck, and your life is shattered.” Now starving for food, Danny ended up under a bridge. His life, he says, was suddenly lost. “I didn’t have anything to live for. I couldn’t function as a human being,” he said. “My soul had died.” Danny’s soul wasn’t alone. Under a bridge nearby lay Kelly Hughes, a retired U.S. Army Sergeant, who served in Kuwait during Operation: Desert Storm. Same “dead soul,” same “dying” story. “I was working in LaPorte. Lost my job. Lost my apartment,” said Hughes.” I was on the streets for about 2-and-a-half months. It was hell. I drank to go to sleep last night.” They are heartbreaking stories being repeated on the street of cities across America. More today than ever before. Right now, the number of homeless Vietnam-era veterans is greater than the number of servicemen and women who died during the Vietnam war. Advocates fear the epidemic is only growing worse in our area. “On any given night now, we’re seeing that we may have as many as 40-45 men and women who have served their county and come back as homeless veterans,” said Steve Camilleri of the Center for the Homeless. “That’s a pretty staggering statistic.” Former St. Joseph County Superior Court Judge Robert Miller thought so too. So he decided to do something about it. Flashing back to his 10-year career as a Navy Officer, the idea hit like a bolt of lightning. “Put uniforms on them and start them marching,” Miller said. “We wondered whether or not they’d ever want to march again.” Turns out, a small handful did and “Miller’s Vets” was born. Judge Miller says he saw an immediate impact. “I saw his shoulders coming back, his head holding up, and he’s never been the same man since,” Miller said. “The benefits to the ones that were here were way beyond my wildest dreams.” But Miller’s dreams didn’t stop there. They just moved. Down the street from the Center for the Homeless is a vacant building, now known as the “747 project.” “We came out and basically gutted the building to open it all up, so we could re-do the floor plan and design it for homeless veterans as a shelter, a training center, and a recreation center,” Miller said. It may not look like much right now, but there is a vision for the space: up to 45 beds, to help serve those that have helped served us. "It just tears me apart to think that a person who raised his hand, said to his county, 'I give you everything, up to and including my life," said GFM Charlie McDonald of Miller's Vets. "And when they left the military, the country forgot them." Miller and his team are now fighting to remember. With help from the Granger Community Church and dozens of volunteers, they're trying to create hope. So far, they're winning. The goal now is to start a new legacy and turn nightmares like Danny's into dreams. "The impact that it has had on our community — not just the veterans, it's really inspiring," said Camilleri. "If it's the last hurrah, it's a good one," said Miller. Miller's Vets is applying for grants and asking for donations to help come up with the $100,000 needed to finish the 747 Project. The group hopes to open the new homeless veterans center by early next year. If you'd like to donate — either through monetary means or of your time — click here for more information. Homelessness isn't the only challenge facing vets.Now many are fighting to get the medical help they need to survive. Tuesday at 6 p.m., our series "Living Casualties" continues with a look at the uphill battle for veterans to get health care.