QUEENSBURY — A tip to the newsroom last spring about a “homeless camp” in the woods of Queensbury led to a reporter discovering the camp was home to one man, who had lived in a patch of woods in town for decades.
Gregg Burdo was a well-known athlete during his time at Glens Falls High School in the 1960s, before he wound up in the Army and served as a medic in Vietnam.
He served as a medic and came back battling demons that many veterans of that war fought. His path led him to a life in the woods, moving from place to place around the region until he settled where he is now.
A series of Post-Star stories during 2017 exposed readers to Burdo’s hard life, a life that finds him in the woods caring for his cats all year, even during winter. This reporter found him to be remarkably intelligent and knowledgeable of current events, thanks to a portable radio at his camp, and with a sharp memory of the region and its people.
He makes due with $300 a month in Social Security payments and refuses veterans assistance (other than occasional Veterans Affairs care) or efforts to get him into shelter. (Police officers who have known him for decades corroborated his story, saying he supplements his income with nightly bottle- and can-collecting efforts, and the local veterans service agency confirmed his military veteran status.)
Post-Star readers rallied to help him, paying off thousands of dollars in veterinary bills for his cats, sending him Walmart gift cards and donating cat food and even a handmade quilt.
This reporter saw him shortly before Christmas, buying him a cup of coffee (he refused a lunch) at a fast-food restaurant after learning he had an accident on an icy sidewalk that led to some rib injuries. But the 69-year-old had no plans to move his life indoors.
“Ah, I’m fine. I’ve been doing this for a long time,” he said.