Though most relief workers have begun to withdraw from the hurricane-ravaged island of Puerto Rico, there is one man who has stuck around. Military veteran Jason Maddy has decided to selflessly devote his time and resources to helping Puerto Ricans who are still reeling from the horrific effects of Hurricane Maria.
Maria struck back in September 2017 and is regarded as the worst natural disaster on record in Dominica and Puerto Rico. The Island was still attempting to recover from Hurricane Irma that struck two weeks earlier when Maria hit its shores. Governor Ricardo Rosselló estimated that Maria caused at least US$ 90 billion in damage, and the entire power grid was effectively destroyed. Simply put, there is still plenty of work to be done.
“They are Americans,” Maddy said, as reported by NBC News. “They deserve help, they deserve support, and they deserve not to be forgotten.” Maddy and his team of veteran volunteers often post updates to social media. When the team highlighted that red tape was getting in the way of aid being delivered to certain parts of Puerto Rico, there was outrage.
“It just shows that regular citizens and veterans can make a difference,” the Iraq war Vet said.
Maddy has even launched his own non-profit, Veteran Disaster Relief.
“I don’t think that I could look myself in the mirror and know that I walked away from the people here,” he said. “They say in the Army that you never leave a soldier behind and we can’t leave these Americans behind.”
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Maddy has also spent time in the harsh conditions of Guantanamo Bay and South Korea.
“I’ve dealt with PTSD,” he said. “It’s been a struggle for me and my wife.”
The volunteer admits that he threw himself into disaster relief as a way of dealing with the traumas of warzones. Before Maria, he helped with relief efforts following hurricane’s Harvey and Irma.
“He bought a ticket and he was supposed to be back in two weeks,” his wife Aliesha said. Jason has been there for the best part of four months.
“I miss him a lot,” she said. “I’m proud of him — that he’s found his purpose.”
The situation remains dire for many Puerto Rico natives. “We’re desperate,” said one victim, Clarybel Santana. Santana has stayed in what is left of her decimated home. She said FEMA won’t install a blue tarp on her house because the structure has been deemed too dangerous to work on. She has nowhere else to go.
It is stories like Santana’s that keep Maddy motivated for the work. “You just feel a joy in your heart that you potentially save their life — or at least improved it,” he said. “And to be a part of that is incredible. It’s something that I’ll never forget.”
Updates from our Veteran Disaster Relief team on the ground in Toa Alta, Puerto Rico. What we have accomplished in the last few days and our upcoming missions for today. A special message to Veterans who are struggling with PTSD, or finding a sense of purpose after their time in the military, and how disaster relief allows them to develop comraderie and teamwork while continuing to serve their fellow Americans in need.Thank you for all of your support!
Posted by Jason Maddy on Sunday, January 21, 2018