ADDISON (CBSDFW.COM) – The U.S. military men and women who serve overseas face incredible challenges in the fight for freedom. Those challenges do not end for many of them who return home.
Silver for Service is a Kaboom Town campaign that helps members of the military through the USO. This year, they have teamed up with Albertsons to give two North Texas soldiers a gift that will last an entire year.
One of the soldiers, Sgt. Justin Mayes, is from Forney, one of the cities hit hard in a tornado outbreak on April 3. Sgt. Mayes took pictures of it with camera on his phone. “Sounded like a freight train,” he said. “We had to have our roof replaced. The tornado threw a 2×4 through the wall, destroyed all the windows on the west side of the house, relocated my fence. I don’t know where it is. I’m assuming Oz at this point.”
Though many in his neighborhood sustained damage, Sgt. Mayes can’t help from feeling a little like Job from the Bible. “I’ve had my wife deployed. Tornado hit my house. And now, my dad’s diagnosed with cancer. I’ve chosen not to blame God,” he said.
Mayes is a full-time Army Staff Sergeant and a full-time dad. He has two children — Ethan is 2, Emma is 4. He cherishes his moments with them, knowing that he could be deployed at any time — just like his wife, Keairia. “She is an E6 Staff Sergeant, same as me. She’s in Bagram, Afghanistan,” he said.
So, Sgt. Mayes said, it was an answer to prayer when Albertsons showed up with a promise to buy their groceries for one full year. He will receive debit cards to buy $200 worth of groceries every week. He was elated and relieved. “Tears of joy. There was weakness in the knees. It’s just one less thing to worry about while my wife’s gone,” he said.
What did his wife say when he told her? “She cried,” Sgt. Mayes said with a big smile and a laugh.
Steve Blackman and his family will receive a year’s worth of free Albertsons groceries, too. Blackman said, “That’s really going to help out with a lot of our other bills, living on a fixed disability income.” His fiancé, Shauna, and his 16-year-old daughter, McKenzie, recently moved in with him.
Blackman was a sergeant in the Army. “There were some explosions that I was present for,” he said. He wears sunglasses all the time now because of an extreme sensitivity to light. If he doesn’t, where them? “I get very severe migraines. They’re debilitating,” he said. Blackman also suffers from traumatic brain injury, herniated discs and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. “Seven years in the Army kind of does a number on you,” he said.
It is impossible for him to work or go to school. So, Blackman helps other veterans adjust to their lives back in North Texas. “I don’t consider anything I’ve been through to be extraordinary in any way,” he said. Maybe he doesn’t, but, thankfully, many Americans do.
You can support our troops and veterans, too. Albertsons is taking donations at the checkout through the month of July. The money collected will benefit the USO. You can also donate online at AddisonTexas.net. Donations will also be accepted at the Kaboom Town Park.
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