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Lisa Groves is on a mission – one that has sent her traveling nationwide to raise awareness about veterans affairs.
Groves, 52, is a veteran from the small town of Dunbar, West Virginia, but over the past three years has taken residence in many places, driving from state to state, seeking out veterans in need.
“I want to bring attention to what veterans are going through, and nobody back in my hometown took it seriously so I decided to go out in the nation to help them,” she said.
Groves does not just help out those who are in the military, however. During her travels she tries to extend a hand to any and all who need it, she said.
“I do this now because I don’t want to see anyone hurt,” Groves said. “I have a big pet peeve with hurt.”
Her first “God-given mission,” she said, started Sept. 2, 2011, and ended on Christmas Eve the same year. During that time, Groves traveled across 48 states, Canada and Mexico, delivering food, clothing, diapers, cosmetics and books to the veterans and homeless people she encountered in nursing homes and hospitals she visited. She said the travel costs and living expenses mostly come out of her pocket, but she has accepted donations.
Through her travels, Groves has dealt with many bumps in the road in the form of racism and sexism, she said, and even though it takes a great toll on her at times, it will never stop her.
“Sometimes, I have to lie down and regroup after I leave a city because I get pushed away,” Groves said. “And that means that someone got left behind.”
She has coined her journey the “No Veteran Left Behind Mission.” After her first nationwide trip, she said it opened her eyes but also irritated her.
“It woke me up and made me mad because veterans were falling through the cracks and were forgotten,” she said. So, she started her second trip in June and has swept through 35 states. The sign on the back of her car reads, “16 more to go!”
Her vehicle, a Jeep Compass, is decorated in black marker, displaying the names of the people she has helped throughout her journey. Even on the inside, Groves has allowed people to write their names and words of encouragement and praise.
“Seeing the veterans smile and laugh, especially the ones that haven’t in a long time brings me so much enjoyment,” Groves said.
She has been in Elizabethtown for the past six weeks and said she has thoroughly enjoyed her stay here and has thought about living here indefinitely — but not until her mission is over.
“They need me,” she said. “The vets need me.”
Chris Chamberlain can be reached at 270-505-1744 or email@example.com.