June 11, 2014: No Home for a Hero

~ by Mary Galvano

My heart was pounding as the announcer said over the loud speaker that we would begin our day the right way with the singing of the National Anthem. As I approached the microphone on stage and looked out into a sea of orange shirts I suddenly became calm. Men removed their hats and turned around to face the flag as I began singing the Star Spangled Banner. These people were here because they believe not only in America but, also in the dignity of human beings; human beings that served our country for our freedom-heroes that are homeless. Nearly 58,000 veterans are living on the streets.

The people in orange shirts were the hundreds (close to 300) workers and volunteers working for the Home Depot Foundation who helped last week on June 4th with the building of the new wing at the 5 STAR Veteran Center’s southern location in Jacksonville, Florida. With this added wing they will now be able to house forty-three veterans instead of only twenty-one. That still is low considering the thousands of veterans that are still living on the streets. Saving just one life is still better than saving none.

One of the veterans living at the center got up in front of the crowd and gave his testimony. He was a soldier in Baghdad. He witnessed horrific events as he put it, things he never wants to talk about. Some soldiers who do see the horrors of war and can’t seem to get them out of their mind turn to alcohol and other avenues of human destruction (I had an Uncle who went through a similar situation). This particular hero eventually found himself in jail. He is a good man, who needed help mentally, and he did the ultimate as a loyal American by fighting for our country but he suffered greatly for it. By the grace of God a social worker for 5 STAR visited him in jail and offered him a place to live at the center. It was a place of refuge for him. He said, if it wasn’t for the center and his being saved by our Lord Jesus Christ he wouldn’t be here today. He got the proper care mentally and physically to face the civilian world again. There are so many stories similar to this man’s story. They need places like these centers to work through some of the issues that they may be struggling with and to receive the help to get back on their feet so they live a more normal civilian life.

What kind of culture are we living in when our soldiers, after serving our country for our safety and freedom, are living in such circumstances? Not one should come back homeless and without the proper care to get back on their feet. We must start helping the homeless somewhere and let’s start with our men and women who have served this great country of ours.

Pope Francis in his book The Joy of the Gospel (Evangelii Gaudium) writes, The dignity of each human person and the pursuit of the common good are concerns which ought to shape all economic policies. He also went on to write; There are other weak and defenseless beings who are frequently at the mercy of economic interests or indiscriminate exploitation. I am speaking of creation as a whole. We human beings are not only the beneficiaries but also the stewards of other creatures. Thanks to our bodies, God has joined us so closely to the world around us that we can feel the desertification of the soil almost as a physical ailment, and the extinction of a species as a painful disfigurement. Let us not leave in our wake a swath of destruction and death which will affect our own lives and those of future generations.

We are all called to see the dignity in others and, if one can, help those who have lost it. We all share one Father; we are all brothers and sisters.

If you wish to help the 5 STAR Veteran Center or the Home Depot Foundation give someone a home please visit www.5starveteranscenter.org or www.homedepotfoundation.org. Both are separate charities but both help people to have a place to live.


Mary Galvano-Bajohr is a singer/songwriter, LPGA golf instructor, speaker and author. On the golf course she is a dedicated professional, but go to a Yankee game, a Pro-life event or other venue and you just might see her step up to the microphone and sing the National Anthem or the Ave Maria.

Visit Mary’s website at www.marygalvano.com.

Also, be sure to check out Mary’s

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