He’s a United States Marine Corps veteran who narrowly escaped death in Vietnam, and this is how he lives. There’s no running water, his kitchen is a dirt floor, and he showers and receives food and clothing at his church. The living conditions inside are unsafe and horrible. In cold weather, friends deliver wood for his tiny wood-burning stove. It’s a miracle he hasn’t had a fire.
Virgil was a high school basketball star. Upon graduation, late in 1965, he was drafted into the Marine Corps. The Vietnam War was in full swing and that was the only year the Marine Corps held a draft. He was sent to Vietnam and, probably due to his size, they made him an MP (military police). He was assigned to help protect a camp of Vietnamese civilians, working the back gate, when the Viet Cong attacked in force and overwhelmed the camp, killing everyone in sight. Since there was nothing he could do to stop them, Virgil ran across a small bridge to find safety. With bullets hitting the bridge behind and around him he jumped into the creek and swam to overhanging bushes for cover. He remained submerged with only his head above water for two days until it was safe to come out.
Virgil finished his tour of duty and returned to civilian life, where he became a police officer, married and had a child. In the early 70’s, flashbacks of that terrible time in Vietnam started occurring; first at night, and then during the day. He would wake up in the middle of the night thinking the Viet Cong were attacking. These incidents increased until he was found one day in his house, hiding behind a door with a loaded weapon. Virgil lost his job and his family, and was institutionalized for a year. He’s been on medication ever since and is unable to hold a job. His only income is his Social Security check which is a tragedy.
Look up the definition of Post-Traumatic-Stress Disorder, and flashbacks are among the symptoms. Over the years, friends and family have tried to secure additional veteran’s benefits for Virgil, but to no avail. That’s something Project Virgil will re-visit, but for right now, we’re asking for your help.
Virgil is 75 years old and the only things he can call his own are that little shack and the two acres it sits on and he’s not going to leave. Love in Action is a group of folks who sincerely believe love is a verb. Project Virgil is our inaugural endeavor to prove just that. We enjoy many freedoms because of the sacrifices of men like Virgil. Our goal is to tear down that shack and build Virgil a tiny house and give him the dignity he deserves. We need $60,000 to make it happen, and we’re asking for your help..
Please...our goal is to accomplish this before cold weather sets in this year. Thank You!
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- Joyce Russell
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Ten Mile, TN
Luminary United Methodist Church of Ten Mile Inc
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