This hero served his country honorably up until 1976 and lived a typical comfortable life. He became a skilled chef and worked comfortably beside renowned chef’s for a long period of time. A sequence of events put Merritt into a position where he was looking for work, having difficulty getting by on his own, with little in the way of real life assistance available to him he found himself with his back against the wall. As an “old timer” Vietnam Veteran many programs only offered assistance to post 9/11 veterans, he was.. All but forgotten.
Merritt is the type of guy that everyone loves. Even though he has very little to give he loves his veteran brothers and sisters so much that Merritt would ride his bike miles just to volunteer his time as a chef to cook for homeless veterans at the shelter. He never wanted to be paid, never asked for anything in return, other than the fact that it put a smile on his face. It is something about that selfless nature of veterans that well.. Lets call it how we see it, makes them come in last place.
When we surprised Merritt with the vehicle he was so caught off guard that he really seemed emotionless. That is until we found out that he thought I was asking him to move my car! It wasn’t until he went outside and I told him about all of the work that we did for him on the car that he realized that we were giving him the car! Merritt’s hands started to shake, he immediately got on the phone with his sister that is married to a Marine to tell them the news. He started off by saying, sit down because you aren’t going to believe what just happened. His sister expecting the worst said WHAT!? He then told her that a group of young veterans just surprised him with a car! He literally couldn’t believe it. That a young group like us actually did all of this for a Vietnam Veteran. Well Merritt. All veterans are the same to us! We would charge our nations enemies with you by our side any day of the week!
When Merritt was asked about his thoughts on our organization and the vehicle he stated “I humbly thank Operation Build Up; having a car broadens my life and opportunity. I have had to limit opportunities due to the schedules of public transportation. This is a life changing moment for me! Thank You so much from the bottom of my heart!” ~ Merritt Ford