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Guys And A Dolly

By Lulu

guyAndDollyApr2013We all love our heroes…firemen, policemen, military men and women. They spend their employment years protecting our families, homes, freedom and lives, often at great peril and sacrifice.

Then there are extraordinary heroes! White knights that just can’t lay down the armor! And that is exactly what a bunch of old veterans in Volusia County, Florida are…EXTRAORDINARY! I have known and ridden with some of these guys and they are not spring chickens. The baby of the team is in his mid 60s and the eldest 70+! They aren’t spending their golden years on a boat, golf course or couch. Nope, they are spending their leisure time moving couches, beds, lamps, washers, dryers, coffee tables, coffee pots, dishes, TVs. Anything to make a house suddenly a home.

Who are they doing this for?

Homeless vets! Since November they have moved 57 vets into a place they can call “my home”. Some became homeless from medical issues, some drugs or alcohol, some just from loss of employment, but at some point all of them either ended up living in a car, the woods, the Salvation Army or the Haven. Once they get “clean” from their struggle that led them to homelessness, where do they go? That is where a newly form team called the Veteran’s Assistance Coalition steps in.

The team with a mission statement of “to assist and support veterans of all wars, providing charity, education, relief and camaraderie while improving quality of life and well being consists of members from Rolling Thunder Inc. Florida Chapter 8, Disabled American Veterans, Marine Corp. League Detachment 658 and the Viet Nam Veterans of America Chapter 1048.

Fast forward to moving day 8a.m.! 5-7 grizzly ol’ Viet Nam Vets show up in Ormond Beach at a storage facility to methodically fill the wish list of some guy or gal they don’t know. The excited new apartment dweller will go from owning only what fits in a duffle bag or shopping cart (we have all seen the homeless wandering the highway with their belongings they can carry) to owning all the essentials for daily living. I traveled with them on two of their moving days.

The new tenants meet us just beaming, some with pets they obviously adore. None complain that the couch may be a bit worn or the bed a bit old. They all sit on “their” recliner and smile! They all hug and thank these ol’ heroes for helping them get started in a new course of life. They are not all old vets that are being helped. They are not all men. Some are from the current missions our country has faced. All have fallen on hard times and seem to have experienced things in their military career that make normal living difficult. Many are in school now. One of the vets they helped was a young mother of two small girls that was living in her car until the car was repossessed right before Christmas. They moved her and the children under a roof just in time for Santa to find them.

The wives of these kind hearted men played Mrs. Clause and provided Christmas. I doubt there was a present under the tree that was as nice as a mattress under their little bodies. Another vet they moved in was injured in the Oklahoma City Bombing while on duty, but since it wasn’t a war he doesn’t qualify for things other vets would have been entitled too.

On the second moving day, “Generation Arthritis” (my pet name for them) moved 3 people in! What kind of people does this on their leisure time? Joking the whole time about things like “having to do this to get away from their wives”; you realize when you see the tears in their eyes that they know it could have easily been one of them that was unable to cope with daily living. They don’t judge these guys they are moving in, not one bit! They simply try, in everything they do, to make a difference, one life at a time. Often during the move in previous vets that have been helped show up to lend a helping hand.

Please call if you have household items they are in need of it all…pots/pans, mattresses, quilts. They also could really use a decent warehouse in the Holly Hill area if anyone has a building that isn’t being used. The wives of Generation X lovingly store the sheets, blankets, cups, dishes and silverware so that they can just grab what they need for move-in day. Their phone number is 386-290-8407 (Jim Kreinest) or their website is veteransassistancecoalition.org.

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