Battle Creek Air National Guard Base, Mich. --
A veteran is a person who at one time, signed a blank check to the United States of America for up to and including one’s life. A veteran is a person who has at one point or another signed on the dotted line and raised their hand to uphold the constitution of the United States and defend it at all costs. They are a different breed of people; they understood that sometimes things had to be done in order to ensure that our country remained free. They didn’t care if it was the popular thing to do – they just knew it was the right thing to do.
Veterans didn’t do the things they did because they were going to get rich doing it. In this profession there isn’t much money to be made. They left their homes and families, never knowing if they would see them again, and many of them never did. They landed in France, Poland, England, Africa, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. They were sent to storm the beaches at Normandy and helped liberate places like Dachau and Auschwitz. They walked through the rice patties in Da Nang and defended hills in Korea. They fought the Taliban in Afghanistan and ISIS in Iraq.
Senior Airman Javonte Lofton works as a hazardous material specialist with the 110th Logistics Readiness Squadron, Battle Creek, Mich., and he feels that it’s his duty to give back to the men and women who wore the uniform before him whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Veterans hold a special place in his heart. Lofton’s wife is a disabled veteran. She deployed to Iraq with the 428th Military Police Company, Kalamazoo, Mich., in 2010-11 and then to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in 2012-13. So, he believes that we owe it to veterans, to show them that we appreciate the things they have done for us because it hits so close to home.
Many of these men and women may have physically come home, but many of them also left a piece of themselves there. Some came home and struggled to adapt to being a civilian again. They lost their families, homes and friends, and ended up living on the streets. It is estimated that at any given time there are 39,471 veterans that are homeless in America. Many of them are homeless because they aren’t receiving the care and benefits that they are entitled to and that they so richly deserve.
There are also veterans that have their homes, but can’t do the things that they used to. They can’t get out and mow their lawns or shovel their driveway and they don’t have family help them. Thankfully, there are people like Lofton who know that without these men and women, he might not have the freedoms that he has today.
“Many of these guys are retired and they just can’t get out there and do some of these things for themselves anymore,” he said. “I just figure that I am already out here, and it takes an extra 20 minutes or so to mow the lawn or shovel off their driveway.”
Even the smallest of gestures can go a long way in making a difference. Some people spend time at the VA hospital or Veterans homes, just stopping in to say “Hi”. Others help out the veterans in their community by mowing the lawn, which is what Lofton does for the people in his neighborhood. He moved into his neighborhood in November 2016 and has been doing his part to help out ever since. And while the veterans hold a special place in his heart, he helps out in other ways like donating money to hurricane relief and helping out inner-city youth in the community.
“I also try to mentor some of the kids that I see at the basketball court to help keep them out trouble and let them know that it’s not what you have on the outside that makes them who they are,” he said.
Lofton doesn’t do it for the recognition. He just wants to do what he thinks is right and do his part to make his community better, and the lives of a few veterans a little easier.
“I don’t really do a lot, I just try to help out where I can,” said Lofton. “These people already did their part for us. It’s the least I can do for them.”