Disabled veteran finds 'brotherhood' during COVID-19 outbreak

Disabled veteran finds 'brotherhood' during COVID-19 outbreak

When the coronavirus pandemic hit Las Vegas, Army veteran Ricky Poe knew life was going to get even more difficult. Poe uses a power wheelchair and public transportation to get around, but he also is highly susceptible to getting both the flu and pneumonia.

So it wasn’t a surprise when Poe’s primary care physician at the Department of Veterans Affairs urged Poe to self-quarantine to avoid catching COVID-19. But that left Poe without the ability to get to the grocery store, something the veteran recently needed.

So Poe reached out to fellow Legionnaire Victor “Doc” Moss, the adjutant at Paradise Post 149. Within minutes, Moss had another Legionnaire ready to not just pick up groceries, but provide Poe a care package of well more than what Poe was requesting.

It was a blessing for Poe and an extension of a relationship that started in 2019 and has led to Poe becoming a Paid-Up-For-Life member of Post 149.

The help he got from Post 149 “says a lot,” Poe said. “I don’t have friends here. I lost my wife unexpectedly in January of 2019. I’m all alone here.”

Moss said Post 149’s relationship with Poe began in 2019 when Poe was the recipient of furniture through the post’s “Help for Heroes” program with Walker Furniture. The program provides wounded U.S. military personnel and veterans in Clark County with specialized and home furniture. After receiving the furniture, Poe joined Post 149 and soon became a PUFL member.

Moss said Post 149 staged a fundraising drive around two years ago to provide household items, food and money for struggling veterans in the community. Among the items collected during the drive was what Moss said at the time was around three years’ worth of toilet paper. When the coronavirus hit Las Vegas, leading to a toilet paper shortage, the post began donating the coveted item to the Greater Las Vegas Fisher House and other veterans programs.

The post also sent out an email to its membership, letting it know the toilet paper was available. It was shortly after that when Poe reached out to Moss requesting assistance, saying he was trapped in his house in need of frozen and canned vegetables.

Moss contacted fellow Post 149 member Greg Whalen, himself a previous “Help for Heroes” recipient, to see if Whalen could put together a care package from Share Village, a Post 149-supported facility that provides affordable veteran housing and has a community food pantry.

Whalen told Moss “no problem” and was able to bring to Poe a larger care package. Poe was overwhelmed when Whalen showed up at his residence with the food.

“All I asked for was to be put in contact for the help from a Brother Member and I would pay my Brother back for whatever he brought me from the store,” Poe emailed to The American Legion. “It took all of 15 minutes via email for (Moss) to get back to me with a response of a Brother Legionnaire who was going to take time out of his day to bring me more than I asked for. Even more to my surprise it was at no cost to me which was a larger help to me as I live like most of us that are disabled veterans on a very tight fixed income.”

Moss said the ability to help Poe is a result of a larger effort by Post 149 to be involved with its community, including Walker Furniture and Share Village. It also led to both Poe and Whalen joining the post. And being able to help Poe “reinforces for us the reason we exist, the reason we created this post, which is community service,” Moss said. “We take a lot of pride of being in the community, donating a lot of money to people and helping them out.”

For Poe, who was a member of The American Legion in Mississippi but eventually let his membership lapse for 10 years, finding Post 149 in Las Vegas has been like finding a new family. Another fellow Legionnaire, Scott Wells, just this week went grocery shopping for Poe.

“I have never been a member of such a united Brother Hood like this in my life, not the Boy Scouts, not even the Army was such a caring Brotherhood like this would take their time from there day to help each other to help another brother in need like this,” Poe said in his email to the Legion. “I am so glad and thankful that I am a member of such a great organization of people. There is no other BROTHERHOOD like The American Legion and why I became a life member as soon as I could and recommend (every) member to do so.”