Another Vietnam veteran died yesterday. Well over half of the medics in my P.T.S.D,
group have died now. Twice a month, our "club" met to learn how to live with memories
of war we had buried deep inside us for many years. I learned I wasn't the ONLY veteran
who was numb inside, who would spend time alone in a dark room at night, staring
outside, waiting for something to happen. I wasn't the only one who always had his back
to the wall in a restaurant.
We knew him as "pastor tom", a quiet man who never said a word in our group for weeks.
He suddenly started talking and he had a message that must have come from "Divine
"I am tired of hearing about people loosing their homes after a flood, or being hungry
in a state like ours., "I ,said he, and am going to help folks in need,."
We asked how he intended to be a difference in people's lives. 'He smiled and
once looked at me and said,"mikee do you still need a mattress?"
I said I did, and he said "let me store 200 of them in your house, and you can
He went to a hotel chain, convinced them to give him all their items like a mattress,
or any piece of furniture they were going to replace. "you just asked? I said.
"you bet, and God provided. " I still remember when my wife at the time came
home to a house full of mattresses. I said we were storing them for a man
who were having them delivered to a town that had had a flood and families were
He convinced companies to loan trucks, men to help unload what ever he had to
This went on for years, before his benefits started coming. He never took a salary,
and never worried about money. "don't worry about the small stuff, " he loved to
say that. A car dealer ship that had helped him in the past giving him money for the needy, gave him a car.
After a number of years, entire smaller cities would call him if they needed something.
He ALWAYS came through.
He was ONE man who walked in to a major store and asked for things they were
getting rid of. In time, he arranged for food to be delivered to those in need.
"Be part of something bigger than yourself." He loved saying that. He was in ill health
for a long time before he was forced to admit he had cancer. I never knew what kind.
He got his VA benefits and usually was giving money to vets who needed something.
I remember as a salesman to always ask "for the order". Tom would ask stores
for anything. He usually got what he wanted.
He just got tired one day of hearing about people in need. He ended up helping
hundreds if not thousands of folks.
He became "the go to guy" when you needed something.
Hundreds attended his funeral.
If you see a problem in YOUR community, try and fix it, ask for the order. He didn't
own a television, he had no time to watch it.
All of us should be bold like "pastor Tom." He didn't just complain about things, he
went out and fixed it.
If we as progressive people believe in changing society, then we should do more than
write, we should go out and fix houses of the needy, to real things.
I made a promise once to a fellow vet in Florida to help fix his teeth. I had promises
from people, but never got him all he needed. I ended up sending my own money
to help a little bit. I will eventually get it done.
Look below you.
I learned fromTom never feel sorry for yourself, other folks needs are more important
than yours. God will provide for you as long as you give yourself to helping your neighbor who needs help.
There is a special place in heaven for people like him. He was ONE man, who changed
lives, he cared about his fellow man.
The World would be a great place if more folks were like him.
Rest in piece, my brother, we miss you.
but when the
time for action
and go in.