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From Veteran to Homeless to Real American Hero

Active Military
Active Military
November 3, 2017
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Heart. It’s the reason we watch Rudy, over and over again. It's the determination of an underdog fighting against all odds and winning. That’s the American way. Look at how close we were to lose in 1776! We were rag-tag farmers who were facing off against the greatest empire on Earth, and we won. That’s why we want to tell you about John J. Humphrey.

John Humphrey is a veteran with a disability, Humphrey was honored with the 2017 William B. Joslin Outstanding Performance Award co-recipient. Humphrey bicycles to work as a custodian everyday for 25 minutes for a 4-hour shift 5 days a week. After the war, he was honorably discharged in 1991. What nobody knew at the time was that Humphrey suffered from undiagnosed schizophrenia, which only got worse after his discharge. Fast forward to 2005 and Mr. Humphrey was living under a bridge, ultimately trapped there by the voices in his head.

It wasn’t until John somehow found his way into the VA’s homeless veterans program, where he was able to regain his old strength and stand on his own. At the VA, Humphrey received job training and started out working in the kitchen at the Syracuse VA hospital. That didn’t seem like much of a fit, but Humphrey kept trying. A job at Home Depot eventually found him, but it didn’t seem like a fit for John, so he moved on. He eventually found comfort in being a custodian cleaning buildings by himself. Although he started out as part of a crew, his boss quickly found that John was able to do the work by himself and well enough to earn him employee of the year. He is so endeared at work that the people who never see John, leave him gifts and tokens of appreciation throughout the year. His work ethic and work quality shined through earning him the honor that he now holds.

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“It’s been quite a journey from being a street urchin to having your own place and being recognized as Employee of the Year,” says Humphrey.Humphrey rides his bike to work 5 days a week in all sorts of weather conditions for the meager 4-hour shift cleaning the building. He’s endured countless battles along the way, being nicked by cars and his bike stolen (7 times), but in 4 years he’s only missed one day of work. That’s a hero in our book.There is something hidden within all of us. We all have the strength to rise up and become more than we ever thought possible. John Humphrey is proof of this. When you see a veteran set his or her mind to success, there is very little that can’t be accomplished. Despite any challenges facing you in your life, we implore you to find the strength within and set yourself towards success. As we stated in some of our manly quotes, “the world isn’t all sunshine and rainbows.” You can fight back and you can succeed, just like Humphrey. Maybe one day we’ll write about you and your journey and your path to living the American dream!

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