A 31-year-old combat veteran who served in Iraq was battling testicular cancer. He was living in a hotel to be close to the VA hospital in Florida where he was being treated, but he was running out of money. There are areas of the country where VA facilities are spread out and vets must travel to access medical care and treatment. Florida is one of them.
Social workers, provided by a grant to a local non-profit veterans organization from the VA’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF), came in to help but nothing had materialized for this vet. He underwent surgery and was discharged, too far from home. He ended up paying for a hotel room after surgery, with no way to get to the hospital for aftercare. Four days went by after the surgery, and still no aftercare, no wound care. It was the beginning of a weekend.
Mary Ann Mayer, the NVF counselor working with this vet, posted the vet’s needs on her Facebook page: a combat Marine vet needed care, soup, a ride to the VA. One of her friends saw it and forwarded the request to her uncle, a Marine vet who was a biker. He, in turn, sent it out to his Marine vet biker buddies. Mary Ann said they all responded, and the veteran went from being alone to having a crew of caretakers. An illustration of the tenet “no man left behind…” and the NVF’s commitment to finding a solution for vets who call our Lifeline for Vets.
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The worst part of war should not be coming home.