Veteran About To Become Homeless

Michael Fitzjohn is an American war veteran and an outspoken advocate for human rights and human dignity. He has been diagnosed with MSA and PTSD, and he was, until just recently, living off disability from the VA. During the Vietnam War, he was exposed to Agent Orange. He served two tours of duty in Vietnam. In recent years, Mike has touched the hearts and lives of thousands of people who know him on the Q&A website Quora and in life. 

For his trouble, this good, kind man, who served our country in Vietnam, is on the verge of losing his home and living in his automobile.

Here he is explaining his situation, with customary matter-of-factness, on Quora.

Mike continues to try to work and interviews for positions, but his speech sounds slurred, and, he jokes, "people buy tickets to watch me walk without a cane." This is because of the desperate illness besetting him.

Multiple system atrophy (MSA) is a progressive, terminal neurodegenerative disorder characterized by a combination of symptoms that affect the autonomic nervous system (the part of the nervous system that controls involuntary phenomena such as blood pressure or digestion). The symptoms reflect the progressive loss of function and death of different types of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.

That we, as a society, would ask a man in these straits to work jobs that exceed his physical capabilities in order to keep a roof over his head is criminal.

We had to twist Mike's arm to let us help him. "I have dignity," he has written. "Other people can decide if I have honor."

But in the same piece of writing, he says: "I’m broke. MSA makes me feel like cement has been poured into my body and allowed to harden. I call myself the ‘cement’ man."

We can do better by the cement man. He has done better by us. In his own words:

"I was a medic in Vietnam and saw dying people all the time. I was with soldiers seconds or minutes before they died. Watching life flow from someone is something you never forget. I spent two years in Vietnam.  I didn’t talk about my service in Vietnam for decades. I regret being exposed to Agent Orange. I regret being diagnosed with MSA, a cousin of Parkinson’s. I regret knowing there’s no cure for MSA. It’s taken years of therapy to learn to live in the present and not in Vietnam. The experience forever changed me."

This man, who has a terminal illness, and writes on Quora to share his experiences and keep his mind keen, has a kind word for everyone he encounters and more cheerfulness in his heart than many who have suffered far less. His whole life has been a dire struggle, but he has borne it with grace. 

Please help us make Michael's remaining time on earth as positive as he tries to be. Help us keep him in his home, and not confused and alone in his automobile.

He has given much to many. Please give whatever you can. 

Donations ()

  • Swati Suchismita 
    • $20 
    • 18 mos
  • Matthew Bullard 
    • $5 
    • 20 mos
  • Laura Wrzeski 
    • $500 
    • 21 mos
  • Michael McClennen 
    • $20 
    • 22 mos
  • Scott Gosnell 
    • $50 
    • 22 mos
See all

Organizer and beneficiary

Susan Bertolino 
Philadelphia, PA
Michael FitzJohn 
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