The Port Orange VFW also assisted the veteran with additional funding for a refrigerator.
When Albert Aponte drove into Port Orange he thought he would be making a routine cable service call. However, when he arrived at the trailer home of 80-year-old resident William "Bill" Hart he soon realized he would be doing more than his job required.
On Friday, Jan. 12, Aponte entered the home and noticed a Purple Heart medal sitting on top of the TV stand. Several more military medals sat in the room and as Aponte began to speak with Hart he discovered the man was a Navy veteran who served in the Vietnam War. At one point, Aponte remembers Hart trying to stand up and almost passing out in the process.
That was when Hart told Aponte he was diabetic and on insulin. But what Hart told Aponte next was even worse. Not only did Hart have a medical condition but he had been taking spoiled insulin after his fridge was damaged due to Hurricane Irma. He had been taking unrefrigerated insulin for about four months and, after collapsing in January, ended up in the hospital and in rehab for almost three weeks.
"It made my heart turn into mush," Aponte said. "I figured I'd do something about it."
Once Aponte left the trailer home he began looking for ways to raise money for the veteran. He told his cousin, Luis Lugo, a Holly Hill police officer, about what he was trying to do and, between their own money and donations, the two men were able to raise $300 toward a new refrigerator.
The two men, who consider themselves to be more like brothers, still needed more funds to help Hart.
For Lugo, helping Hart buy a new refrigerator wasn't just about assisting another person, it was about giving to another veteran. Lugo, a Marine veteran who was also in the Florida National Guard, said hearing Hart's story only made him want to want to help more.
"He's a hero. He served in Vietnam, had a Purple Heart," Lugo said. "He told me the story of how he came home and people would spit on him. Anyone who serves this country deserves nothing but a hero's welcome."
Aponte and Lugo then went to the Port Orange Veterans of Foreign Wars and told them about Hart and his situation.
According to VFW Service Officer Robert Stephens, the VFW pulled together their own resources and were able to provide the extra funds to purchase a new refrigerator for Hart.
Even though Hart now has a working refrigerator to safely store his insulin, the two cousins haven't stopped giving.
According to Aponte, Hart's AC unit does not work. Now Aponte and Lugo are raising funds again to repair the home's heating and cooling. They have set up a Go Fund Me page for Hart and plan to use any additional funds to pay off the lot rental.
"That didn't stand right for me and Albert so we did everything we could," Lugo said. "It's not fair for someone who's willing to give his life for his country to not have the support other people have."
Hart's Go Fund Me page can be found at http://bit.ly/2Bpu3eQ.