Andrew Dys

York Co. strangers donate thousands, collect discarded belongings for evicted vet, 84

The word used so often the last few days as strangers railed against the eviction of an 84-year-old Rock Hill veteran was not one used in a family newspaper.

The printable winner was “outrage.” “Disgrace” was the place horse. “Scoundrels” came in third.

“It’s an outrage, a disgrace, that someone who served our country was almost put out in the street to freeze to death in the cold,” said Gloria Machin, an employee at Rock Hill’s VFW Post 2889.

Rock Hill police took the veteran into emergency protective custody March 16, during an eviction. The eviction happened after the person the elderly veteran lived with failed to pay rent for months, and may have stolen money from the vet, according to a Rock Hill police report.

The veteran has been in S.C. Department of Social Services custody in the hospital since then.

The VFW and others offered to collect money for the veteran. A Go Fund Me online collection netted more than $2,600 by Wednesday afternoon, plus checks and cash.

Members of a Sunday school class from Gosepl Light Baptist Church, near the VFW on Main Street in Rock Hill, donated all their money, $140.

About $800 came through the door of the VFW for the veteran by Wednesday afternoon. All was given by strangers.

“The response has been overwhelming, incredible,” said Amber Clark, VFW Post 2889 commander. “People in Rock Hill, York County, South Carolina, they again showed that we support our veterans.”

DSS is assessing and assisting the veteran, said Jim Nichols, York County DSS director, and will continue to help him.

Veterans and advocates remain committed to helping the man. Machin showed a corner table at the VFW post, covered with three boxes and an old garbage pail filled with the pictures and letters and life possessions of the man.

Strangers saw the belongings thrown into a yard on Eden Terrace, blowing in the gutter. They brought them to the VFW so that when the veteran gets a place to live, he has what was almost lost.

The eviction of the veteran was legal; the person who rented the house failed to pay rent for months, court documents show.

But many said legal and right are not the same.

“There are pictures of children, letters, all this man had,” Machin said. “This stuff would have been in the trash dump. Gone forever. Scoundrels treat veterans like this.”

After The Herald’s exclusive coverage of the eviction, and the assistance from police and others, veterans advocates seethed.

Keith Larson, a nationally-known radio and Internet personality from Charlotte, who has spent 15 years on the air as a veterans advocate, interviewed me Tuesday about the outrage.

The Herald has learned the name of the veteran, but is not publishing the name because he is in protective custody and has not been able to speak for himself.

Clark, the VFW commander, met with the veteran Tuesday night and said that he is in good spirits, and hopes to soon move into housing.

Money raised will help with his housing and other expenses, Clark said.

“This veteran just couldn’t believe that so many people cared about him,” Clark said.

“He is excited to get on with his life, and that he will have a comfortable and safe place to live,” Clark said. “And we are all going to help him.”

Want to Help?

Amber Clark, commander of VFW Post 2889 in Rock Hill, set up a GoFundMe page: Donations can also be taken to the VFW post, 732 W. Main St., Rock Hill, or call the post at 803-327-2975.