Wounded Times

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Shoeless Man in Viral Photo Was Homeless Veteran

I still think that NYPD Officer Larry DePrimo proves compassion lives in Manhattan when he took his own money to buy socks and shoes for a man he thought needed them. After all, it was a cold night. The store clerk gave his employee discount to help the officer pay for them. The stranger waited long enough to find out what was going on to capture this act of compassion on a camera.

Now a reporter discovered the man he helped is not homeless, at least not homeless anymore. He was homeless but was provided with a place to live by the VA in 2011. In other words he was a homeless veteran.

Shoeless Man in Viral Photo Not Homeless: Officials
Jeffrey Hillman, the barefooted recipient of boots from a caring NYPD officer, has an apartment in the Bronx, the I-Team has learned
By Melissa Russo
Tuesday, Dec 4, 2012

He may be shoeless, but he is not homeless.

Jeffrey Hillman, the barefooted recipient of boots from an NYPD officer last week, has an apartment in the Bronx, NBC 4 New York's I-Team first reported.

“He does have stable housing,” said Seth Diamond, New York City's homeless services commissioner. “We’ve worked with Mr. Hillman for years.”

Hillman used to be homeless, but entered shelter in 2009 before moving into an apartment secured by Veterans Affairs in 2011, the I-Team has confirmed. He pays his rent using a lifetime voucher for homeless veterans and his Social Security income.

Despite his permanent home, Hillman panhandles in Times Square, usually without shoes.

In fact, when an NBC producer spotted him Saturday night and snapped a picture, his new boots from Officer Lawrence Deprimo were nowhere to be seen. He's offered varying accounts of why he was not wearing them and did not mention that he had an apartment to call home.
read more here


I don't think less of this story now. I think it means much more. Consider that this NYPD officer had so much compassion in him all he cared about what helping someone just because he needed it. He didn't ask how he got to be where he was or anything past the fact this man had nothing on his feet. Nothing can change what Officer DePrimo did.

Now what makes this story better is that the man helped had been a homeless veteran up until last year when the VA stepped in and found him a place to live. Part of President Obama's pledge to get veterans off the street by 2014.

Yes, he does have a place to live now and yes DePrimo proved that compassion does not ask anything more than what is needed. Beyond that it also proved that sometimes the people we help may not need it as much as we may think at the time but we do it instead of requiring proof first.

Officer DePrimo showed compassion lives in New York and nothing can change that.

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