Colorado Community Media – By Alex DeWind
About two weeks ago, David Brown was living in his RV parked out front of Walmart in Highlands Ranch. Brown, an Army veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, was down on his luck — he had few belongings and his heat wasn’t working.
Because of one Facebook post, all of that changed.
“I just wanted him to have a little traffic visiting him — to experience some extra kindness so he knows he is loved,” said Emily Adams, who posted about Brown’s situation on a Highlands Ranch page called Word of Mouth, on which the community posts comments, questions and recommendations. “What I was expecting is that maybe a couple of people had some extra blankets.”
Adams, who spent 10 years in the Active Guard Reserve, served in Iraq with Brown, who fought in combat. The two reconnected through a Facebook group for veterans a couple of years ago.
Within two days of Adams’ post, residents gifted Brown a new generator for his RV, a space heater, food, warm clothing and blankets. One resident helped Brown set up a P.O. box. Another helped him fix the broken headlight on his RV. Someone reserved a hotel for Brown and his girlfriend for two nights. And a GoFundMe page raised more than $5,000 for Brown to find an apartment.
Michelle Morley, who donated the generator, said she contributed because she simply likes helping people.
“It makes me feel good. I know what it’s like to be in a bad spot because I’ve had some myself,” the Highlands Ranch resident said. “And it’s Christmas. And it’s really cold.”
Brown found a deeper meaning to the gifts.
“The materials aren’t as big of a thing as what I’ve seen from people — the compassion and caring,” said Brown, a tall and slender 41-year-old.
Brown, a Colorado native, spent 10 years in the service and has been out for six years. He spent some time in Pennsylvania before moving back to Denver a couple of years ago to look for work. He recently picked up shifts at Walmart through Labor Finders, a staffing company for commercial, industrial and construction jobs. His girlfriend is also employed at Walmart, he said, which is why they are able to overnight park in the store’s parking lot.
Brown, who said he suffers from PTSD, said he is still adjusting to life out of the service.
“The way of life is completely different,” he said. “There is a structured framework in the military. You have to figure out the framework yourself here.”
On a recent windy day, he commented on the bustle of sounds — cars passing by, leaves rustling.
“Every little movement in some way, shape or form triggers me,” he said.
Following the outpouring of support, Brown said he felt overwhelmed and anxious, but more than anything “extremely grateful.”
Brown hopes his situation helps other struggling veterans.
“There is hope,” he said. “We as people need to do what’s right and take care of each other.”
Adams has similar feelings.
“The war that they fight when they get home is worse than the one they fight over there,” she said. “We can’t be dormant and complacent in our efforts to recognize that he is one of thousands that need help every day.”