Veterans Stand Down Miracle
Last Week at the Veterans Stand Down in Las Vegas, God sent an angel to work a miracle! I was capital B-Blessed to witness a beautiful interaction between two Veterans serving the community, and ultimately, each other.
If you’re not familiar with the Veterans Stand Down, it is hosted every year in Las Vegas to support Veterans in need of services – from employment, to clothing, to jobs…and everywhere in between. I understand that “Stand Down” is a term used in battle. When the front line military are battle-worn and tired, they are ordered to “stand down” for much needed rest as other troops take the lead.
In the case of this annual event, our local Las Vegas Veterans are provided basic needs like clothing, hygiene, dental care, and mental health services in addition to housing and employment. I was there to staff a booth in support of Gambling Addiction Recovery….at least that’s why I was I thought I was there. Now, I think God put me there simply to connect two souls who wouldn’t have otherwise connected.
Here’s what happened. I was at my booth early in the morning – 7:30AM actually – which is in itself a small miracle as anyone who knows me knows that I’m NOT a morning person. After I set up our “Gambling Recovery” booth, I checked out the booths around me. Some guys at a booth nearby had Bible verses on the back of their T-shirts, and I was intrigued. I went over to their booth and they offered me a “camoflauge” Bible. I said “No Thanks. I have plenty of Bibles.” Then they showed me something I had never seen before – a “Biblestick” Audio Bible. It was really cool. Kind of like a “Flash Drive” with earbuds and the Gospels recorded by a man who sounds like James Earl Jones. I was amazed and kept telling the Veterans staffing the booth how COOL their SWAG was!
I went back to my booth and was greeted by a friend in recovery from his own gambling addiction. We hugged and caught up, and I found out what he does for living. My friend is a Christian – which I didn’t know. He works for the Department of Veterans Affairs in “Peer Support”, which I also didn’t know. That happens a lot in 12-Step Recovery meetings – we “know” people by what they share in the rooms. We don’t necessarily talk about our “outside lives” like what we do for a living or our religious beliefs. We talk about Gambling addiction and recovery. Sometimes we may feel closer to people “in the rooms” than our work friends or even our family, because we share such deep feelings, yet we may not even know the person’s last name:) What we do know is their struggles, their victories, and their hearts.
Anyway, my friend Greg came up to my booth. I found out he worked for the VA and that he’s a Christian, so I just had to drag him over to the nearby booth to show him the cool “BibleStick.” As I asked the kind man at the booth to show Greg the BibleStick, the man asked Greg what he did. Turns out this sweet soul, who was at a booth handing out Bibles to Veterans, is also a Veteran himself. It also turned out that he desperately needed HELP himself! This Veteran (I’ll call him Paul), was having trouble getting his benefits. When “Paul” found out what Greg did, he began to share his own struggles…. the fact that he couldn’t get his medications from the VA because they thought he was eligible for Medicare. The fact that Medicare wouldn’t give him his meds because they thought he was eligible for VA benefits. Bottom line is NO ONE was providing Paul with the medicine he desperately needed.
As Greg and Paul continued their discussion, I heard pain and frustration in Paul’s voice. I said, “Paul, this sounds like it’s really upsetting you.” To which the responding..”It is! I’m so upset and I haven’t had my medicine for months! Sometimes I want to give up. I was on the eighth floor this morning and I thought to myself…’it’s just one step.'” It’s “JUST ONE STEP?!!!”
I realized Paul was very depressed. Thanks to the Nevada Coalition on Suicide Prevention, and the training I’ve received from them, I was not afraid to ask, “Paul, are you thinking of Suicide?” He answered, “I am. I think about it all the time.” Wow. Wow!! What a transitional moment! Paul was there to be of service to others, and here he was dying inside and had considered suicide that very day!
Greg said, “I can help. Let me help you.” After a bit of resistance in which Paul said, “No one can help me. I’ve been through the system 10 times. Its’ frustrating and nobody takes responsibility and I’m just so upset,” he acquiesced. Greg said again, “Please let me help you. This is what I do.”
Greg and Paul went off to a nearby table and sat together for well over an hour. I didn’t know where they went from there, but a few hours later, Greg came back to my booth and told me “Paul won’t be coming back today. He’s on his way to an inpatient mental health facility.” Greg went on to tell me that they had straightened out Paul’s benefits. Paul willingly chose to get help for his depression. He was on his way to a place that would provide the help he desparately needed. Greg and I hugged with tears in our eyes knowing that God had worked another miracle!
I’ve come to realize, that I often don’t know what God has in store. I trust that if I do the leg work and stay committed to helping the “Problem Gambler who still suffers,” God will do the rest. My job is simply to “shoe up and show up” and trust in the Lord. I thought I was there to help Veterans in need of help for gambling addiction. And plenty of them stopped by our booth for information on Gambling Addiction. Paul didn’t have a gambling problem. He did need help, yet he wasn’t there to ask for it. He was there offering help for his bothers an sisters…and God sent an angel in the form of another Veteran who could and did help. I am so blessed to do the work I do. I entrust all the details to God, and he always delivers. Thank you Lord for sending your angel to the Veterans Stand Down! Your miracles are all around us. All we have to do is pay attention and lean on you!