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ONLY ON 3: Homeless man's death raises questions about support for veterans


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Monday we told you about a man found dead and burned at a homeless camp in Wilmington. Friends tell us he was a veteran. That's leading many to question whether we are doing enough to support our returning troops.

Friends say Justin-John Crum, 28, served in Afghanistan. But why do many of our veterans find life so hard when they come home from war?

"Justin? He was a character," friend Tim Thayer said. "I'm sorry that he passed. He was a young man."

Thayer once lived on the streets with Crum. Today, Thayer has his life together. He says Crum wanted to do the same but couldn't.

"The government says, 'We're going to help vets do this, help vets do that,'" Crum said, "but I think family and friends are a big plus, a big support."

Another veteran we spoke with who is homeless did not want to show her face. She agrees more needs to be done to help the troops when they come home.

"I think that society could be more compassionate," she said.

And she thinks that the government does not make veterans' needs a priority after they have served.

"You feel that I was a soldier, I was a sailor, I was a Marine. You know, I shouldn't be in this situation," she said.

And while both agree that the transition back to civilian life is hard, they encourage fellow veterans not to give up.

"Things can be better," Thayer said. "You don't have to live like this."

The veteran who now finds herself homeless said, "Don't be too proud. Get help. Seek answers for your issues and concerns."

Crum's death at a homeless camp off 16th Street in Wilmington is still under investigation. Detectives are waiting on the results of an autopsy.

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