Sunday, October 29, 2006

"Someone needs our help."

I've been a member of the Patriot Guard Riders for only a short time. The members are some of the most caring and compassionate people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. They do what they do for complete strangers and for nothing but the chance to say thank you to the families who are thanking them. I've been aware of the other activities (they call them "missions") that the Patriot Guard Riders do, the "Welcome home" missions, the Send-off missions and the ever popular parades we get invited to participate in. I've long decided that I would only participate in attending the funerals. There will always be more than enough people for the other "missions."Recently, I was made aware of another facet of the Patriot Guard Riders. I shouldn't really be surprised by it as it is more of an extension of the "caring and compassionate" statement I made about them earlier.
It came to someone's attention that a woman that served in 3 wars as a marine was in dire need. This woman, Gunny Sergeant Helen A. Brusack has some how "slipped through the cracks" of getting some much needed attention from the government and the service she had devoted much of her life to, the church that she has been a member of for many years and the Marine Corps League and the American Legion Post of which she has been a life time member.
I say "slipped through the cracks" because even though I do not have the whole reason for the over sight, I would hate to think of the alternative.

Ed Finch, a member of the Patriot Guard Riders, upon learning of the Gunny's plight and realizing that she lived a mile from him took it upon himself to spread the word about Gunny. Through his efforts a visit was made by several members. He started a fund for her and during a funeral mission, Patriot Guard Riders selflessly contributed to the fund only hearing a very abbreviated explanation. For the most part someone summed it up by saying a "someone needs our help."

After a week and a half of planning, getting the word out and getting a roll-on dumpster delivered to the Gunny's house, a few of us showed up at Gunny's house in Yucca Valley to start. I was surprised, appalled, infuriated and then finally thankful. I learned that Gunny's problems went deeper than just the flooding damage by bad plumbing, her inability to take care of it due to her hospitalization and the lack of assistance from the people and organizations that should have been there for her.

The following is an excerpt from a letter to the Patriot Guard Riders from Angel Carter:
The long story short is that the Gunny has been in the hosptials and rehab for over 3 months now. Bruce first met her at Balboa hosiptal. For 3 months Bruce was the only one to call her and check on her. She was not receiving any get well cards or phone calls muchless visitors. Gunny has been grateful for such a simple thing as a call each day. She served 26 years in the Marine Corps herself. Paving the way for women Marines like myself who came behind her. After 26 years she retired. But then she's spent the follow 40 years doing volunteer work with Marine Corps League, American Legion, her local church and even taking in foster kids. She had a grandfather that served in the Marine Corps and died in WWI. She had 2 brothers in the Marine Corps that died in WWII. She served during WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. Met her one true love in WWII. He was a pilot in the Air Force and lost his life during WWII as well. She never looked for another and never married. In the true sense of the word she considers the Marine Corps and Marines her family. Her life has been spent serving our country, her community and her fellow Marines.

Gunny has spent her life in the service of others, whether it is in the Marine Corps, the community in which she lives. Gunny devoted so much time in the service of others, she neglected herself.

I was surprised at the way her troubles were understated.

I was appalled that people who knew her either let it get so bad or worse yet did not know it was that bad.

I was infuriated that one excuse given was "we're too old to help."

I was finally thankful that there are people who will act to help another human being with only the words, "someone needs our help."

For Gunny (2)
Front of Gunny's house.

For Gunny (4)
The Roll-on dumpster.

For Gunny (9)
By this time most of the debris already filled much of the dumpster. I was told it was much worse.

For Gunny (13)
Pitchforks, shovels, wheel barrows, gloves and masks were the order of the day.

For Gunny (16)
Only way to fill the dumpster. It too full to just roll the wheel barrows in.

For Gunny (26)
At one point the only way to start was through a window because the debris blocked the doors.

For Gunny (32)
The masks could not hide the smell.

For Gunny (34)
Wet carpet...

For Gunny (35)
Other types of "uninvited guests".

Once the house is cleared, the next phase is clean-up and fumigation...

to be continued.


Anonymous Angel Carter said...

Thank you for sharing Gunny Brusacks story on your blog so others and see and hopefully raise awareness.

11:00 PM  

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