At the ripe age of seventeen, I enlisted into the marine Corp. After five grueling years and a tour in Iraq—I saw things that no person should ever have to experience. Missing my family and the absence of routine and normality, I chose not to reenlist.
My first few months home was a struggle. I was forced to move back home with my parents. It was an adjustment. I suffered from night terrors and cold sweats. I lost time and from one day to the next, I suffered. My parents gave up on me. I think at one point I just shut them out because I was embarrassed and tired of disappointing them. I was once the pride of my country and now I was someone’s sloppy seconds.
One day, I got into a bad argument with my mom and I pushed her. I PUSHED HER. ME. I immediately walked out the door and left the only place I ever called home. With no money or friends, I started sleeping under the local bridges. I scoured restaurant garbage cans looking for my next meal.
Six years later, I was unrecognizable, standing on a street corner. Holding a cardboard sign that said, ‘Will work for food.’ This is what my life had become. I was now a panhandler begging for a hand out.
However, I DID NOT WANT A HAND OUT. I WANTED A HAND UP!
That is when I saw it, the red, white, and blue flyer flapping in the wind. It said VETS REBORN. A local veteran and her husband were building a village of cabins for homeless veterans. I am sure they had no place for me. They did not need a troublemaker, with no job, no money and no prospects…but I took the flyer and wadded it up in my pocket.
The next day, I sat outside of a Kroger. I was hovering under the concrete awning when I saw someone. Strong, tall build with their shoulders back and head held high. I had seen that look before. I had experienced that look before. When the man turned around, he confirmed my suspicions. It was a soldier. He was hugging his wife and daughter.
That should be my life. However, it was not.
That was what I wanted. It is what I needed if I was going to survive.
I dug through my pocket, pulled out the flyer and trudged into the grocery store. People stared. I am not sure if it was my unsightly clothes or my smell but either way, they stared. I walked to the customer service desk and asked to borrow their landline phone. The woman at the desk refused, stating, “Managerial rules.”
I asked to speak to the manager, to my surprise—it was one of my high school friends. Mark shook my hand upon arrival. He did not cringe or sneer at my appearance. He was kind and asked how he could help and I responded that I just needed to make one phone call…as if my life depended on it. Mark handed me the desk phone and I punched in the phone number.
With one phone call, I changed my life.
This is not a true story. HOWEVER, IT IS SOMEONE’S STORY and WILL BE someone’s story!
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates that 39,471 veterans are homeless on any given night.
About 1.4 million other veterans are considered at risk of homelessness due to poverty, lack of support networks, and dismal living conditions in overcrowded or substandard housing.
Vets reborn is a non-profit organization who has purchased 88 acres, which surrounds a rock quarry, in Russellville, KY. They intend to build 400-500 sq feet cabins. The funds that they are seeking will create a village of cabins. They have the land, manpower, and equipment to execute the plan. However, they lack the funding to purchase necessary materials to construct the cabins and are seeking monetary donations—with your help, you can help a VETERAN.
PLEASE GIVE WITH ALL OF YOUR HEART AS OUR SOLDIERS DO EVERYDAY!