Saints Safety Roman Harper wants to help homeless veterans - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Saints Safety Roman Harper wants to help homeless veterans

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New Orleans -- Saints Safety Roman Harper wants to end homelessness amongst U.S. Veterans. It's a topic close to Harper's heart.

Through all of his successes both on and off the football field, Harper always has the support of his dad. "He's taught me a lot, he's one of my best friends and I look up to the guy," Harper explained.

Harper's father served in the Gulf War. While he had a family and job to return to, Harper says not all veterans are as lucky, explaining, "Sometimes you just see homeless people under the bridge or anything like that but these guys served our country and it amazes me to see people go through things like that when they're literally putting their life on the line every day."

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates about 13 percent of the nation's adult homeless population are veterans. The department says most are single and suffer from mental illness, which prohibits them from getting jobs. New Orleans has about 2,400 homeless people overall on any given night, and experts say, that figure continues to grow. "We still have a higher rate of homelessness now than we did pre-Katrina. It's about 14 percent higher now than pre-Katrina," said Martha Kegel, Executive Director of UNITY of Greater N.O.

Roman Harper doesn't want to see that number grow, especially amongst veterans, so he's started Operation Restore Hope. Harper explains, "The eventual goal of this whole thing is to open some type of transitional facility for veteran hospitals or veterans coming back so to help with their training, job training, anything physically, mentally."

Harper is accepting donations on his website and also selling t-shirts and other merchandise. He explains, "100 percent of the money collected will go completely to the Veteran Administration down here."

Harper is also enlisting help from some big name companies as he tries to raise as much as he can to keep veterans off the streets.

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