ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Wednesday was a special day for a Vietnam War veteran who received a donation that will give him a better sense of independence; a donation from a couple who for five years now have been doing their part to support veterans throughout Florida.
According to the American Legion, the state is home to more than 1.6 million veterans, 22% have claimed to have some level of disability.
“This will allow me to go downtown either by myself or someone else,” Raymond Breault, a Vietnam war veteran said about the brand new mobile scooter he now owns, which will allow him to let go of the cane he’s been using for more than 3 years to help him walk or stand. “The other thing I can do is go to stores, big stores and while some of them have scooters, they’re usually used, or they don’t have them.”
It was a godsend for the veteran--who joined the Marines when he was 20 years old and deployed to Vietnam from 1964 to 1965--an experience that left him with health conditions traced back to what is known as Agent Orange.
“During the war, they sprayed defoliants all over the place,” he recalled. “Unfortunately, it all affected humans and I came back, as many did with some problems. Some people had cancer, I ended up with diabetes and heart problems.”
But now he’ll have one fewer problem thanks to the gesture of solidarity from Jack Kump and his wife Joan Wheeler.
The couple donated 16 new mobility scooters to the American Legion, Department of Florida in Orlando. Kump said it his way of paying it forward because while his friends went to war after he graduated from the Military Academy in 1969, he didn’t.
“So, this is a way to pay it back. Or pay it forward or to do something for those who went in my stead and made the sacrifice from someone who didn’t,” Kump said. “My hope is that this inspires others because it’s the see one do one teach one approach to problem-solving that I always followed in the fire department. I worked for the Alexandria fire department as a paramedic for 28 years.”
Ever since Kump began his mission five years ago, close to 60 mobility scooters have been donated to veterans who have no insurance or the economic means to buy one. Several of the scooters recently donated were taken to Ormond beach, where Tim Forrester--a retired National Guardsman and his wife, Debbie Forrester, the founder of Ormond Strong, will distribute them to Korean war veterans.
“On behalf of Debbie, I would like to say thank you from the bottom of our hearts for what you are doing,” Forrester said.