BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Local leaders in Western New York say they are making major progress when it comes to helping homeless veterans.

The mayors of Buffalo, Niagara Falls, and Lockport announced Thursday that the number of local homeless veterans has dropped by 26 percent in the last six months.

Their efforts were part of a "mayors challenge" issued by first lady Michelle Obama.

On Thursday, an army veteran told a crowd at the Buffalo History Museum that the men and women who work at the V.A. and other agencies are the true heroes.

"In so many ways, they help out not only with the outside life of a veteran but the inside life," said veteran Frank Fischer. "No matter what the challenge, they are champions until the end of time."

Those three local mayors believe there are currently 73 homeless veterans still living here in Western New York.