Lifting Spirits and Connecting with Homeowners

J. Barry Neas

Navy veteran J. Barry Neas reflects on seeing his fellow volunteers lift the spirit of a little lady that lost it all.

I’m quite proud to have worked with around 100 of the best volunteers on the planet. One thing I noticed were the actions accomplished by my fellow Greyshirts that no logbook, work order, or form will ever record.

For example, I saw my fellow Greyshirts lift the spirit of a little lady that lost it all. I saw my Greyshirts hand over a lunch or two to a few homeless Americans we encountered in Texas. I witnessed each and every one of these Greyshirts show compassion, respect, and love to every Texan they met.Note: there is no check-box for, “gave a homeowner a fresh start in life.”

Navy veteran, J. Barry Neas,  pictured above saluting the Flag during a morning brief.

Veteran Greyshirts, in particular, have no problem running into chaos. Veterans can be ripping out someone’s wall, or cutting down their favorite tree, and somehow get the homeowner to smile, laugh, and show the world what it means to be Texas Strong.

I think my favorite story from my time in Texas is when we did a muck-out on a Laotian women’s home. Passing through the home, I saw a Buddha in the living room. Then I saw a Buddha in every room I entered. Finally, I ran into the homeowner. I bowed properly as any Buddhist would, and she returned the greeting. She promptly asked me, “Do you know Buddha?” “Indeed, I do!” I replied. “Come see Buddha.” We visited her big Buddha statue that was adorned with plenty of nice things.

I asked if we could share a prayer or two for my team. She was ALL smiles and said, “Oh yes, good, good.” And I must say, I think she was quite happily surprised when an old, white guy, from Boston, rattled off the Tara mantra. I like Tara, she’s a kickass Buddhist deity that stands for hard work and getting shit done. I made an offering to Buddha, and asked, ‘for all that is good watch over my Greyshirts. Then she pinched my cheek.

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