The Robin Hood Of The Bronx


The following is a guest post by Gonzalo Duran, Chief Executive Officer of Devil Dog USA Incorporated

The Robin Hood Of The Bronx

The tale of “Robin Hood” is a classic folktale that most people have read or have seen as a movie – it’s a tale about his ethical exploits. With our economy and society changing over the years, specifically with its downward spiral, we have seen these types of stories become a reality. I have witnessed these societal downfalls and have decided to take action through ethical civility and diplomacy. We are living through an economy that is going downhill, a Veteran Affairs system that is a mockery, and a time when Americans are turning their backs to the democratic system because of the ineptitude of their representative’s political actions. I have experienced the very bottom of our country’s social class: via employment, education, and housing. My goal now is to help my brethren reach a level of stability, freedom, and happiness every American citizen is entitled to.

I live in a world where doing the right thing brings great fortune and everyone wants to help each other in a positive manner. I believe that there is a missing piece in this world, and that is a person or community to lead this strong movement towards a proactive mission for the betterment of all Veterans and their surroundings. My question is, “When or with whom will this action start with?” Everyone complains about the issues at hand, but how many people will actually act upon these words. Well here I am – that someone willing to take the first action in this battle for the greater good. If I have done anything, it is to show those who want to make change that it is in fact possible; I have taken the first step. I am not saying it will be an easy endeavor but it is a real possibility. Loss of friends, being shunned, and ostracize are some of the negative issues you receive from breaking down barriers to help others but that is the sacrifice you make for the greater good.

I decided this year that if I wanted to see change, than I would have to start by being that change myself. Over the last three years I have acquired a vast amount of knowledge, experience, and professional etiquette. I have learned how to completely fund my project by using my GI Bill, student loans, savings, and any other form of income that would become available to me in support of this worthy cause. From month to month, I have found ways to stay afloat; and as long as I can keep stable, I will continue to provide a home for the Veterans in need. However, I am now reaching out to those who want to either make change or need help. Let us work hand in hand together and make Devil Dog USA Incorporated a strong force; a movement that will help all Veterans past and present find the services they direly deserve.

I am lucky in that I don’t have to pay the full retail value of the commercial space I rent for my business. Of course, I’d prefer to get a discount or free space, and if only I could get the realty management affiliates to fully appreciate the concept of tax deduction. As a matter of fact, a majority of the Bronxites do not understand the concept of non-profit organization, its theory and process, or how they actually achieve their specific cause. I have done my best to educate the community and for-profit businesses and have along the way found support in a vast network of community leaders willing to support my cause. This wasn’t always the case; in the last few months with the help of the national attention we have receive, we have also found positive attention and awareness. As a result, this has made the community and private businesses more receptive and more inclined to help our nation’s Veterans.

Unlike the story “Robin Hood,” I don’t do what I do to win the heart of Maid Marian, although that would make for an ideal ending to this story. I do this to help because at one point on my journey, I found myself praying for a day when I would no longer have to eat tuna fish from a can, while sleeping next to a convict in a halfway house. The movement I am working towards has affected me in some of my other goals, such as fulfilling the requirements for my education in medicine, but overall, it is a price I am willing to pay. I can only hope the community that I have helped so much will do the same by helping me finish my matriculation of a degree in medicine. Currently, this personal goal has been put on the back burner, but I believe with a little more time it could easily be attained. If I received more help from the community, the politicians, and the nation, then this could become a reality, a reality in which I could medically serve our community and our Veterans.

Stability came with a price for me, but once I achieved it I immediately went to action. I first gathered the information I accumulated over the years and compiled it to make others aware of what was possible. For example: we are attempting to renovate a house that was passed on to me from my father. Long-term, the goal is to provide temporary housing for student-Veterans that are using their GI Bill benefits. We also hope this plan becomes a model that others could emulate. The house was about to be foreclosed on, but I was able to temporarily stop that from happening. I have asked the community to come and join us in helping us keep the house from getting taken. Originally, we started with four volunteers; to date, we are able to find consistent support from anywhere between thirteen to twenty-five volunteers. We have received attention from the media about our efforts and we continue to hope that national attention will help in garnishing the necessary attention so that we could finish our project. The volunteers that have joined us include politicians, community leaders, children, teenagers, and Veterans from past and present, from periods of peacetime, and wartime.

We have served over thousands of Veterans, families, and civilians in the last two years, ranging anywhere from our local to international communities. Our services have included providing metro cards for clients so that they could travel to interviews, clothing, transportation to recreational and sport sites, as well as a scholarship opportunity for a college-bound Veteran. We have also provided the Veterans and the community with a community center located at 4555 3rd Avenue Bronx, New York 10458. We recently held our District Assembly 78, Democratic Forum to get Veterans of all communities to vote for a government that will help Veteran needs.

Lastly, this is to put the crooked politicians, the devious, the greedy, on notice; we are growing and becoming bolder day by day. While many will follow the herd, there will be those that break away and will look for reliable, organized, and honorable leadership. I am stepping up to be that leader in this fight for good. While I may not become that person, that person may be reading this and preparing.


Gonzalo Duran

Chief Executive Officer

Devil Dog USA Incorporated

About Gonzalo Duran:

Gonzalo was born and raised in the Bronx, joined the U.S. Marine Corps, and is now an advocate for the veteran population in the Bronx area. To that end, he founded Devil Dog USA Incorporated who’s mission, duty and purpose is to facilitate the Veteran transition process into the civilian sector.


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Ed García Conde

Ed García Conde is a life-long Bronxite who spends his time documenting the people, places, and things that make the borough a special place in the hopes of dispelling the negative stereotypes associated with The Bronx. His writings are often cited by mainstream media and is often consulted for his expertise on the borough's rich history.