Local Veteran Has Made It His Mission To Help Homeless Vets
HANOVER TWP. — Standing in a Turkey Hill convenience store three years ago, veteran Lucius Washington found his next mission.
The man who approached him noticed his hat, a souvenir of his 32-year career in the U.S. Army.
The two men started talking. Washington learned he was a homeless veteran. Then the man asked for some spare change. Washington wanted to do more.
He gave the man a tent and through him, he began to meet other homeless veterans. As he worked toward longer term solutions, he met up with them, took them for pizza and connected with them.
“They learned to trust him,” said Arthur Stahl, 72, of Wilkes-Barre and a member of AmVets Post 59 in Hanover Twp., where Washington is a commander.
It was the beginning of a new calling. Washington tried to help the people he met in whatever way they wanted.
Some simply want to speak to their families. At least two have joined the community living center at the Wilkes-Barre Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Plains Twp. Some have moved in with friends and sought employment. Some weren’t ready to move indoors, so Washington helped them out by delivering clothing, food and other supplies they might need on their own.
“The first year, he was very quiet about what he was doing with the Post,” Stahl said.
But as Washington wanted to do more, he enlisted more people in the work. He shared the mission with fellow veterans at the AmVets Post and elsewhere. Other veterans organizations joined in the effort to collect supplies
Along with his work helping homeless veterans, Washington also visits veterans living in nursing homes. He spends an hour or two with them, chatting and keeping them company as well as bringing them things they need. He would like to develop a local home for veterans who currently don’t have a place to live.
After a long military career, his calling now is important to him.
“When you’re a veteran, you’re part of a brotherhood. You can have your issues, but you always have each other’s backs. You look out for each other,” Washington said. “We’re a veterans organization, and I still consider them my brothers. So it’s like, I look at my veteran brothers out there who aren’t doing so well; I’m doing good. Who am I to turn my nose up to them and say ‘I don’t want to be bothered with you because you’re not doing good?’ That’s the wrong way to be. You’ve got to have a heart for your fellow veterans.”
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PARADE DETAILS The Wyoming Valley Veterans Day Parade steps off 2 p.m. Sunday on Market Street in Kingston. The parade travels over the Market Street Bridge to Public Square in Wilkes-Barre. COMING SUNDAY A special section dedicated to area veterans will appear inside the Sunday edition of The Citizens’ Voice. The section features stories of female veterans who are taking leadership roles in area American Legions in addition to looking back at a trailblazing nurse from Wilkes-Barre who cared for two presidents.