It was a day like any other. I checked my email on March 9, 2017, to find an email from a friend, fellow veteran, and former client of mine, Paul. I hadn’t heard from him in a while (since I had given up my practice and moved further west in the state), but I often wondered how he was doing. I remembered fondly him talking of the motorcycle rides that he did to honor veterans; and I always wished that I had the time and ability to be more involved in activities for veterans. Well, I got my wish.
“I finally retired from full time work… Now, it’s on to bigger and better things.
I have a deep conviction that the humanization and survival of these folks is a personal/ethical responsibility that rests with each of us. Rather than simply waiting for ‘the government’ to do something to help them it is time for us to get out there and provide assistance. ‘Put your money where your mouth is’ kind of thing. Many of these folks were dealt a bad hand (corporate failure/downsizing, failed marriages where the partner cleaned out the bank and left them with nothing…) and are not there of their own accord. We have an opportunity, no a requirement, to provide help in whatever form we have available to us to give them a 2nd/3rd chance at life. I fall back on the statement, ‘There, but by the Grace of God, go I.’ I have been blessed in my life and it is time for me to give back.”
This touched me: deeply. I had been homeless for a while after I got out of the military. I had found myself across the country with no work at first, nowhere to live, and no way to leave. I couch surfed and got two to three jobs to try to get on my feet, sometimes working 21 hrs a day seven days a week. Eventually this schedule led to me getting sick, and with no medical insurance I was at rock bottom. But God had other plans for me: through some friends I had met a woman who was an EMT, and out of desperation I called her at midnight when I could barely breathe. She loaded up her infant children and drove out to get me and bring me back to her house. She got me antibiotics (walking pneumonia), and nursed me back to health. She also told me I wasn’t going back to the place I had been sleeping (with no heat in winter); but that I was staying with her till I was better. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be here.
So this is my way to pay it forward. This is my way to contribute. This is my way to try to keep someone else from having to face the prospects of having no prospects. I am blessed, and I have to share that.