Veteran organizations prove service goes beyond active duty

Outside the Gates: Volunteers help Army veteran clear snow that left him stranded in his house
Outside the Gates: Volunteers help Army veteran clear snow that left him stranded in his house
Published: Jan. 5, 2023 at 6:21 PM AKST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - After back-to-back snowstorms blanketed the Anchorage bowl, the municipality and residents struggled to clear out roads, sidewalks and driveways. For some, like Army veteran Michael Johnson, it was impossible to keep up.

“I’m very limited on my movement,” Johnson said. “The doc told me don’t get out there and shovel, and my wife, she won’t let me shovel.”

Under doctor’s orders, Johnson is not able to lift more than five pounds. Johnson was scheduled for a number of medical procedures before he was forced to cancel them after the heavy snow totals left him and his wife, Maggie, stuck at home. After four days, Johnson grew desperate for help to dig out and contacted his local Veterans Affairs representative who got him in touch with Jessy Lakin at Alaska Warrior Partnership.

“Alaska Warrior Partnership’s mission is to find warriors in need in our community, and then find the solution in the community to solve that problem,” Lakin stated. “Unfortunately, there was no way to solve that problem already established in the community for emergency snow removal for veterans, there just wasn’t, so we called a couple of our partners.”

Volunteers associated with Team Rubicon, Battle Dawgs, as well as representatives from the VA, decided to team up to establish a snow removal task force. The group of eight showed up on Johnson’s doorstep with their own personal shovels in hand.

“Everybody showed up,” Johnson recalled. “It was just amazing — just all of them.”

Together the group of volunteers was able to remove the piled-up snow from his driveway and vehicle in about four hours, going so far as to drive his car to the gas station to fill up his tank. For Johnson, it was an honored reminder that service goes beyond active duty.

“The organizations, I mean, people step up to help you,” Johnson said. “They make you feel proud that you were a veteran ― or that you are a veteran.”

If you or someone you know is a veteran in need of assistance, contact Alaska Warrior Partnership to be connected to local resources.