Do Not Forget Our Veterans

Why investing your time in the veteran community is the right thing to do.

Written by: Cody McGraw, CEO and founder of SCOUT Military Discounts

He didn’t tell me his name. Perhaps he had forgotten it, or he didn’t see the need to. He was wearing worn out clothes covered in dirt. His broken down shoes did not fit him and one would guess he didn’t take them off much. He had a grey beard so thick and grand – Zeus would be jealous. I was talking to someone who had evidently been homeless for awhile. For the purpose of writing this article, let’s call this man Zeus.

I was taking a walk in Portland, Oregon one day. What’s nice about this city is there are small little parks throughout it. I found a location called North Park Blocks, right in the heart of Portland. Finding nice bench to sit on, I began to people watch (an amazing thing to do if you live here).

It wasn’t too long until I noticed Zeus. He was slowly pushing a shopping cart toward the bench I was on. There were a lot of trinkets, garbage bags and cans in it. As the squeaky cart made it next to the bench I was on, he sat at the opposite end of it. I immediately turned to him and gave him a nod. He looked at me, and didn’t respond.

One thing I like to ask the homeless is what their name and what their story is. You’d be surprised how shocked they are when you ask them for their name. In a world where our eyes are trained to look through homeless people, sometimes asking for their name is worth infinitely more than a dollar.

I asked Zeus for his name. He turned to me and stared. It wasn’t a look of contempt, or anger. He just looked at me with a blank face. Realizing he wasn’t going to tell me, I asked him a second question, “What’s your story?” There was a long pause. He reached into his inside jacket pocket and pulled out a tall can with a brown paper bag around it. **psst** he opened the can and took a long sip. “I’m a veteran.” I smiled and reached out and touched his shoulder… “Thank you for service.” This time he nodded to me.

He told me that he served in the Army. That he was involved in multiple deployments. He went into a few details on how tough it was. That a lot of his good friends went missing (my guess was either in war, or after they returned to civilian life). And by the time I presume he was near the end of his beer, he looked me square in the eyes and said, “They forgotten about us.” I stared back at him. Not knowing what to say, or do. The way he looked at me too was so sincere. I didn’t doubt for a second anything he said was false. He was a veteran. He did deploy. He did lose track of his other soldiers.

Homeless-Veteran-Statistics

He did feel forgotten.

His beer was now finished. He stood up and began pushing his cart. “What can I do?” I kept saying to myself. I got up to give him a few bucks before he got too far. Inside I was thinking, “how pathetic is this? Giving this hero a few dollars for his service.” He nodded again in thanks, and continued walking into the distance.

I sat back on the bench. “They forgotten about us” I thought to myself. It was a moment I would never forget.

We need to take care of our veterans. Regardless of deployments, what you did in the military, or how long you served… anyone in good faith signing up to serve their country is a hero. They are doing what most people do not want to do. Because of this, it’s important to invest in the veteran community.

That’s why I get excited about honorable organizations who are serving the military community. Whether it’s connecting them with the right type of job that essentially will keep the off the streets, providing them a memorable letter that they can hold on to, or giving them a pick-me-up through savings… anything you can do to increase their quality of life: do it.

I encourage anyone (including civilians) to get involved with at least one military nonprofit that is invested in the military community. And to support companies that are providing services that exist for them. More importantly, find a way to directly work with vets. Hear what they have to say. Let them know you care. And be there for them.

Do not forget about Zeus. Do not forget about our veterans!

Written by: Cody McGraw, CEO and founder of SCOUT Military Discounts

One thought on “Do Not Forget Our Veterans

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