Addison Barber, a 76-year-old from Mineral Springs, North Carolina, has already survived a lot in life. He’s a former Marine Corps Sergeant who served in Vietnam and received the Purple Heart. He got his nickname, Ad, from Dwight D. Eisenhower. He comes from 13 generations of family who served in the military.
His incredible service to the country has also come with sacrifice:
“I took a hit in the side; lost a kidney,” he told FOX 46 of his service.
So you’d think that at this late stage in life, he could take it easy—enjoy his retirement, surrounded by his old painted war figurines.
But sadly, things have been extremely difficult for Barber, who’s been living in potentially life-threatening conditions.
His misfortunes started a few years ago, when he suffered a debilitating stroke which paralyzed him on his left side. He was ineligible for VA benefits since the stroke wasn’t combat related. Since then he’s been bound to his home and wheelchair.
He only eats one small meal a day, from Meals on Wheels. But worst of all: in the winter, he can’t afford his heating bills. His only source of warmth is his oven.
“When it hit the teens two days ago my whole body … froze solid,” he said.
But ever a survivor, he’s not even complaining—covered in blankets, he insists that he’ll make it through.
But while the old vet is content to muddle through the winter with what he has, the people around him are much more concerned.
When Holly Schmitt, his former caretaker, saw how he was living, she was heartbroken—and shared his story on Facebook, trying to get him some help.
“I just thought this is crazy,” said Schmitt. “There are people out there that need to know that this is a disabled veteran who served our country who is going without.”
“You did so much for us, so much for this country,” she told Barber.
But it turns out, many people shared her feelings—as the story spread, more and more members of the community reached out to help.
A GoFundMe page that was set up to raise money for Barber has so far raised $4,000 in four days.
And a complete stranger paid his entire heating bill for the winter. Barber is unfamiliar with the internet—but he’s certainly appreciating the assistance.
“Huge help,” he told FOX 46.
“Probably going to keep me alive.”
And that wasn’t all. When FOX 46 broke the story, they saw his empty refrigerator—so they reached out to the local Publix supermarket.
They were happy to give him a full stock of food and supplies.
“It means a lot to us and it’s what we needed to do to give back,” said Publix employee Kimberly Reynolds as she helped deliver the groceries.
“He served our country so this is an honor.”
Responding to this sudden outpouring of support, Barber could only say “Thank you.”
But for his former caretaker, it was a sign that there were still people willing to help out people in need, especially the ones who served the country.
“It makes me feel really good,” Schmitt told FOX 46.