Retired Marine corporal and double amputee Brandon Rumbaugh made a decision two months ago to bring attention to the plight of homeless vets in his small Pennsylvania town.
The motivational speaker has been voluntarily homeless and living around the George C. Marshall Memorial Plaza in Uniontown, Pa., since October 31st.
“We found a way to make it work,” Rumbaugh said about making arrangements with volunteers to drive him to and from speaking engagements while still staying at the plaza–a decision he made after people urged him to continue to take his message public.
He’ll remain ‘homeless’ until November 29th. That’s the anniversary of the incident that took his legs, according to triblive.com
The 26-year-old Marine vet lost his legs in an IED explosion in 2010, fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Brandon decided to be voluntarily homeless in an effort to raise awareness and money for the growing number of homeless veterans in the U.S. According to HUD, an average of 578,424 people are homeless on any given night. Of those, nearly 50,000 are veterans.
When Brandon recently visited Lafayette Elementary-Middle School, he said the second-graders nearly brought him to tears. “These kids were bringing me their lunch money, telling me to give it to the homeless,” he said. “They got it, as young as they are… If these kids have it figured out, why don’t we?”
Although a tent is pitched nearby to store donated food and other items, Brandon sleeps at the base of a statue of Gen. George Marshall, a Uniontown native.
“I’m not actually going through what homeless people go through… I have people bringing me stuff. That person who’s really homeless, they might not eat for a week.”
Rumbaugh said more than 1,000 visitors have already stopped by the Plaza—to speak to him and snap photos. He says one couple drove all the way from North Carolina to see him.
He’d eventually like to establish a network, where, if something happens in the community, people know who to turn to. Rumbaugh would like to inspire visitors to establish a word-of-mouth network to direct resources to those in need –like a family who loses their home to a fire.
Even if people can’t donate money, they can do other things like donating their time to repair houses, he said. Rumbaugh said he decided to launch this campaign and to “pay it forward” after his community stepped up to help him, when he returned home wounded from war.
While a cot and sleeping bag will serve as his month-long “home” through the end of this month, Rumbaugh’s actual four-bedroom house in Uniontown was donated by the ‘Homes for Our Troops’ foundation.