"Life is good," said Robert Gray, a veteran of the United States Navy. "Yeah, the food is a little too good. I was 180 pounds when I first moved here."
Eighty-seven veterans live inside the West Virginia Veterans Home in Barboursville. Men of all ages. Some served in Vietnam, others in Dessert Storm or the current Afghan war. Michael Stephens is the Recreation Specialist at the home. He said, "If you just touch one of their lives a little bit, it's a feeling you can't describe."
It only takes five minutes of spending time with the gentleman who live at the Veterans Home to realize that each one has a history, a family, a story to tell. Stephens said there are multiple reasons why veterans live at the home. He said some have Post Traumatic Stress disorder, some of their spouses passed away, and some would be homeless otherwise.
Stephens said it's important not only to thank veterans on Veterans Day, but to thank them any chance you get. "Don't be afraid to say hey, thank you for what you've done, shake their hand."
On this day, a class of pre-schoolers brought in hand made gifts. Gray said, "The outpouring of support from the community is just huge. Even a tough guy feels the love from those kids."
Gray has overcome more obstacles than many of us have and he made it through with the help of his comrades here. "I think if you're knocked down, you're in the perfect place to pray," he said.
That's what they do here. They pray, they support each other not just today, but every day. "They're still alive," Stephens said. "They're not just in a body, living. There is still a life to live." Stephens said the best gift you can give a veteran is your time. He said if you see a man or women in on the street, the best gift of appreciation is a simple, "thank you."