My life has been spent serving the men and women who serve in the US military. I take no pride in doing so. It is just the proper and the right road for me to take. — They deserve it: Simple as that. – But it is getting harder to do. The glow of patriotism has all but disappeared since 9/11.
I started being involved in my Twenties, a few years after being listed 4-F in the US Marines Corps, when they discovered that I had a slight case of Hemophilia (a bleeding problem). — There were two Marine Air Stations, Tustin and El Toro, nearby. And I began a growing janitorial business. My number of accounts quickly got too numerous to do the work myself, so I began hiring local Marines to work for me in the evenings. It was an honor to work with them, and then to help them get on their feet after the military.
I made friends with other US veterans who were also helping out in their own ways. My best friend became a Vietnam veteran who had been a street sleeping drug addict and alcoholic after serving 3 tours 1965-1970. But he got sober after a decade of homelessness and was now spending his life helping other Vietnam veterans like he had been.
We spent many days and evenings going to homeless shelters and rehab facilities. He shared his life experience and I preached a short sermon. He was Greg Essliar. – He also took Vietnam veterans back to Nam and they returned to where they were based and built rural hospitals. These trips were extremely therapeutic. – But unfortunately, Greg took his first drink in ten years during one of these trips. Alcoholism is a ‘progressive disease’ whether a drunk drinks or not. And within 3 months, Greg drank himself to death. I miss him.
After he passed, my wife and I began helping a very successful vet-entrepreneur who had built a Flower Shop empire: Conrad’s Flowers. – He used some of his wealth to build a rehab facility for US veterans and asked us to be the pastor/counselors. It was a free, live-in program where they ate, slept and worked. A few doors down, was the Orange County Rescue Mission. So I pastored and preached at both locations.
I heard the scariest, most gruesome stories from these men about their lives during the war and some of the things they did afterwards. It was a vicious cycle: They felt guilt and remorse, so they took drugs and alcohol to ease the painful memories. But once they were stoned, it unleashed hidden demons that caused them to do more shameful things. Then they got stoned again to forget what they had just done. Ad Infinitum… They lived in a prison of horrible memories. And I was only able to help just a few get out of that dungeon. It was very frustrating and sad!
By that time, my wife and I were ready to retire. We paid in full for a 3 bdrm. home up the road from the beach in Oceanside CA, next to Camp Pendleton. If we were careful, we could live off our savings for the rest of our lives. – And then a Marine knocked on our door and needed to earn some extra money. HirePatriots grew from that knock. And here we are 8 years later!
It’s been a rough road. We lost our house and our savings, building HirePatriots and keeping it going. We even lived in an old RV for a couple of years. And it is still tough financially. My wife and I spend almost every waking hour, everyday, helping US veterans. But very rarely do we get paid for anything. Occasionally a donation comes in. Then we make do with that until the next one comes in. – We do not have much. It’s very hard. That cannot be denied.
But we have discovered another kind of reward that we receive by giving our time and resources away to help others. – We have learned to truly believe in and to trust in God. We have developed a rock hard faith that is stronger than anything this world has to throw against us. Knowing God is with us, makes every hardship possible to endure.
My wife and I will continue in the pursuit of creating a nationwide employment safety net for all US veterans until we are called home to Heaven. We were created for this purpose: to serve US veterans and their families. There is nothing else for us. HirePatriots is our all and everything. It is what we will be doing until we draw our last breaths.
If you would like to join us, please do. We need your talents, gifts and abilities. We have important things to do for everyone who wants to pitch in. — We believe that with enough patriots and businesses joining in that HirePatriots can provide a job everyday for any willing and able US veteran. — What a great way to spend your life, serving those who served us!
But if you want to and can’t, because of other things, please click HERE.
Mark Baird/ firstname.lastname@example.org/760-730-3734