Air Force veteran Mark McGrath was among the ranks of Southern Nevada’s 692 homeless veterans until he and his wife, Jennifer, made the move to permanent housing in April thanks to a HELP USA program.

“If it wasn’t for this program we would still be sleeping in the desert,” Jennifer, 45, said Thursday, sitting on a couch at the nonprofit’s Genesis Apartments on North Main Street.

“We were across the street from the Salvation Army in a tent. So we went from having two backpacks. Now we’ve got a bed, we’ve got a couch, a TV. We’ve got dishes, and I’ve still got him,” she said.

The couple will celebrate 24 years of marriage July 4, a thought that brought tears of joy to Mark’s weathered face while she spoke about how they are trying to live independently again after a series of setbacks that included job losses and surgeries since the recession took hold six years ago.

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