Having no home to call your own is one of the greatest challenges that anyone could ever go through.
That’s exactly what this 94-year-old veteran endured for more than 25 years.
Gerald “Jerry” Lewis served in the U.S. Army Air Corps from 1943-46 during World War II. And if not for this kind couple Angie and Brian Russell of Havelock, North Carolina, this man would still be wandering the streets by now.
Luckily, Angie and Brian met Jerry and decided to take him in. Before welcoming him into their home, the poor man had been bouncing from home to home for 25 years. And for the last two years, he was living out of his van in a Walmart parking lot.
Jerry had to sell the van in December 2020 because he couldn’t pay for it anymore. Although he receives Social Security payments, they weren’t enough to sustain his needs.
In an interview with Megan Scarano of WCTI, the veteran said that he always feels like a fish out of water for not having his own home. Although he has family in the area, they couldn’t afford to provide the care he needs.
Jerry also described what it was like living out of a van and the challenges of not having a refrigerator for his medications, among other things.
“In the vehicle was tough; during the heat of the day, it’s too hot. I used to park where the sun wasn’t coming in the windshield and making it too hot. But at night, after midnight, it really gets cold. I’d have to start the car and get it up and running, but you can’t run the whole tank,” he said.
The Russells took him in around Christmas time because they “cannot and will not let this sweet man fall under the radar again.”
Brian said gifts took on a new meaning last year when Jerry began living with them.
“Watching this proud man tear up over getting something as everyday as pajamas was heartbreaking. He was so grateful for even the smallest gesture, that I almost felt guilty for the blessings my family enjoys,” he wrote in a post.
Angie and Brian has set up a GoFundMe with a goal of $50,000 for Jerry. If they can’t find a placement for him within the VA or assisted living, they will renovate their home to create space for him and make it more handicap accessible.
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Listen to Jerry Lewis’ interview with WCTI in the video below.
Update: Jerry will be living in an assisted/independent living facility! His lease has been signed, and he has requested for his new apartment to be painted turquoise and beige. According to Brian, the veteran was “absolutely giddy” when they were picking out items for his new apartment.