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January 2, 2014

Civilian, veterans group aids local family

Ada — This is a story about a soldier, his wife and their 9-year-old son. It is also about a soldier who returned from Iraq, was thanked for his service and badly needed a job and a place to stay.

The young man walked into an office recently and found David Sampson, a veterans employment representative.

“I work for the State of Oklahoma — the Employment Security Commission Workforce of Oklahoma,” Sampson said. “My job is finding homes for homeless veterans.”

It didn’t take Sampson, an Ada resident, long to get to work on finding the young soldier a job. It only paid $8 an hour, but it was a start.

Sampson went on to other things until a month later when the soldier’s wife came into the office. She told him the house they were living in had plumbing that didn’t work and no electricity and they had spent the last of their money living in a motel in Ada.

Why?

Because the soldier’s wife has to have oxygen at night. She has a terminal blood disease.

Sampson went back to work getting the soldier and his family into a triplex over in Holdenville.

The guy’s problems, Sampson said, were only temporary. He just needed help to get things worked out now that he was home.

With a place in Holdenville, the soldier still didn’t have a truck to haul his family’s belongings.

No problem. Sampson and his wife, a full-time student at East Central University, rolled up their sleeves and moved the struggling young couple themselves.

It was during that move that Sampson and his wife noticed the couple owned almost nothing.

“They hardly had any food,” he said. There was one bed for the couple and the little boy slept on the couch. He had no toys, no Christmas tree, no lights.

Sampson went back to work, finding and networking with resources he’s paid to know and network with.

The search for some emergency cash was under way.

Oh, and the little boy’s birthday was the following Sunday. Sampson needed money, and fast.

This was a job for Col.  J. L. Rhodes and the Infantryman’s Association, based in Ada.

The association exists, with no help from the feds or state, to help veterans in need.

Its members provided $500 from their reserve funds and gave the money to the family.

The organization raises money from dues paid by other vets and by selling combat infantry hats at J.D’s restaurant in Ada. Meetings are held at the American Legion.

The soldier now has a job as a prison guard at the correctional facility in Davis.

Sampson knew Mary Meeks, who helps vets through the Upward Bound program at East Central.

Sampson found Rhodes through Meeks’ network resources. With those much-needed funds, he managed to pay the utility bills and to throw a birthday party for the little boy.

But while telling the couple in a phone conversation the good news about the birthday party in Ada, Sampson noticed they kept saying they might not be able to make it to the party.

After more questioning, Sampson realized the couple, in survival mode, was worried about using up the gas in their car when they’d need it for work

Again, no problem. Sampson got back in his vehicle with a couple of 10-gallon tanks, filled with gasoline.

The child rode to his birthday party. So did his parents.

Everybody went bowling, played games, went to the batting cages and played Lazer tag and token video games.

“Two or three months down the road, they’ll be fine,” Sampson said. “This is just temporary.”

There’s a rumor that veterans aren’t being treated well when they return to civilian life from active service.

When good people and good organizations find veterans in need, the brotherhood appears as strong as ever.

Contact Art Lawler at adanewslawler@cableone.net

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