Veterans helping veterans for a small Christmas miracle
SAN ANTONIO - Emotions were high today, as a veteran in need received the Christmas present of a lifetime.
“People can say it's a small miracle, but to me it's bigger than life,” said Tyler Smith from E.L. Smith Plumbing. “It's the best Christmas miracle that you could have. I'm a very honored man to be a part of this."
The mission started back on Memorial Day. A veteran support group called “Guns to Hammers”, drove across the country, raising awareness and money for vets in need.
"It means we get to keep him at home,” said Carol Rankin. “We don't have to put him somewhere."
"A lot of times when these guys get out they're forgotten about, and they shouldn't be,” said JR Smith from Guns to Hammers.
Since 2008, Otis Rankin, a Vietnam war veteran, has been battling Parkinson’s disease.
"He's to the point where he has a lot of trouble walking,” said Otis’s wife Carol. “He's in his wheelchair a lot of the time."
However, the Rankin’s home wasn’t built for wheelchairs, and the VA has rejected their pleas for help.
“Our family has a long history of military service,” said Otis’s daughter Tracy Knight. “To know that they were told that wasn't going to mean anything, when they needed them the most. It was very upsetting.”
Tracy Knight was watching the news back in May, when she saw JR Smith and Kevin Sullivan discussing Guns to Hammers. Minutes later she reached out to them over Facebook, to see if they could help her Dad.
"I sent a Facebook message to him,” Tracy told us. “I think in about 30 minutes he messaged back, and said we're going to help your family.”
"We need to take care of him,” said JR Smith. “If our government is not going to do it, that's where we step in.”
The group used $17,000 worth of donations to make changes to the Rankin’s home. The project was about 99 percent complete on Sunday.
"The fact that we were able to do this, as a charity job, through Guns to Hammers, makes it just that much sweeter,” said JR Smith.
The Rankin's home is now livable again, just in time for Christmas.
“I’m going to clap just for you guys, because I am happy,” said Otis Rankin. “Thank you.”
If you’re interested in donating to Guns to Hammers so they can help more veterans, click HERE.