It is the age of the “Like”, Emoticon, and “re-post” and “Share”. In the time of “Social” media, the human race – or at least a portion of it – is so inundated with information there is little time to process it. Given our busy lives, there is little time to physically interact with each other. To remain sane, we decide to filter out what is not beneficial or relevant to our situation. I decided that I would remain interested in veterans’ issues, dogs, cats and animal stories, and keeping up with old friends and extended family.
Yesterday, I read a story that seized my attention. A 92 year old, World War II B-17 pilot was losing his home of 42 years in an apartment building to eviction. Apparently the new owner of the building was evicting everyone to do some remodeling and raise rents; this one tenant had been on a fixed rent through a few landlords and for many years because of his veteran status and long tenancy. It seemed very unreasonable to me. My grandfather had escaped conscription in the Soviet army during WWI, my other grandfather had been in Civil Defense in his native Ireland during WWII. Teachers, mentors and friends had been in France, Italy and Germany as soldiers in WWII. And I knew that one of the most dangerous occupations in that war was aircrew in B-17s.
I made a comment on the featured story on Facebook that something like GoFundMe should be started for this veteran, and this landlord should be pressured via social media. At present, over 250 reactions from Facebook users indicated that this was well received. I decided to ACT on my comment in the interim, by seeking information and reaching out via email. In a time when everything is potentially suspect, I did not want to start something that would prove to be either an old story or an urban legend.
And so I emailed the reporter whose story was picked up and repeated by social media. And subsequently, I received an email from the family members of the B-17 pilot. The gentleman was fiercely independent, but had accommodations with both of his children as a standing invitation. This newsworthy story was prompted by them to inform others of the shabby treatment of veterans. Apparently, the city government was woefully unconcerned and had provided no help. Bureaucracy is never motivated unless it is to promote themselves or increase their budgets.
After consulting other veterans advocacy experts, I provided the family members with some contacts and information available to support veterans. And they were adamant that donations were not solicited but only the collective outrage focused into action for our nation’s population of under-served veterans. That is the true sense of community, Supporting those who served to defend us. No politics, No discussion of the morality of war, Simply for citizens to give back to the men and women who put their lives in harms way – or were willing to put themselves in harm’s’ way.