On Independence Day, one group is focusing on veterans who've lost it all. They've launched a toiletry drive to bring in items from all across the state to help veterans.
Ryan Hepworth knows first hand what it means to be a veteran in need. After being as a captain in the military and serving tours in Afghanistan, he came home fighting to find normalcy again.
"I'll be the first one to tell you I struggle with PTSD every day," said Hepworth, the founder of Shadow Warrior Foundation, a non-profit that helps veterans who are battling PTSD and addiction. "My job in the military. It was what is was. I worked in the trauma unit and it stays with you," he added.
Hepworth and his team at Shadow Warrior Foundation pack special bags of personal care items and bring them directly to veterans on the streets.
"We go under bridges," Hepworth said. "We go wherever we need to go, in the rough parts, or wherever our veterans are at."
For the homeless, Independence Day isn't a day off. It isn't for Robin Williams either.
"I am a veteran; seeing homeless veterans is just unbelievable," said Williams, the founder of Stand Up for Stand Down. "There should be no such thing as a homeless veteran."
Williams started the toiletry drive that collects the tens of thousands of personal care goods for homeless veterans. Her team places the items in plastic bags they call "comfort bags." Volunteer groups like Hepworth's then pick up the items and distribute them to vets. The toiletry drive is in its 7th year.
"Imagine not knowing when you're going to get to brush your teeth, or when you're going to use deodorant, and you're out in these hundred degree temperatures," Williams said.
The Georgia Cancer Specialists Clinics are serving as donation sites. There are 26 locations across the state where anyone can drop off items during normal business items. Organizers ask that razors, shaving cream, and mouthwash be omitted.
"It's very hard for a lot of these guys transitioning out," Hepworth said. "I know that I'll never be the same. A lot of those guys they recognize that as well. But, we try to tell them just because you have PTSD or you're struggling with things, you don't have to let that define you."
Anyone who wants to donate can bring in items to any Georgia Cancer Specialists Clinic all across the state from July 4th through September 7th. For a list of locations, visit www.gacancer.com.
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