The touching story behind a photo of an elderly veteran in Savannah, Georgia, and posted on Feb. 28 has captured the hearts of many.
It all began when a customer at the restaurant Texas Roadhouse spotted the friendly long-haired veteran wearing “a jacket with war vet badges,” reports the Love What Matters Facebook page.
“With every person who walked into the restaurant, [the veteran] very kindly said 'hi, how are you all tonight?' or 'bye, I hope you have a good night,’” Facebook user C. Sparks wrote. “Most people reacted to him, others completely ignored him.”
That was when the waiter in the photo decided to talk to him.
“The young waiter in the photo had all the patience in the world, he stopped to talk to this man, smiled and laughed with him and listened to stories about his life,” the post reads.
The author was touched.
“My mom and I flagged the manager down and told him we wanted to pay for this kind man's meal,” Sparks wrote.
They soon learned somebody else already had paid for his meal.
The photo provoked more than 1,000 comments and more than 40,000 likes in less than a day.
Some shared their own stories.
“I was in a Hoss's Steak House one day and when I got to my table I tried to pay for a group of National Guardsmen who had been ahead of me, but my server came back and told me their meal had already been paid for,” wrote Penny Graham.
Actions like these are more than just acts of kindness. For some veterans, they help save lives.
The American Psychological Association reports veterans face myriad problems, ranging from suicide to unemployment. Yet given the stigma of mental health issues, many do not feel comfortable reaching out to others.
“We need to watch out for our Vets," wrote Facebook user Louise Acuff Kitchen. "Be kind to them. They have had a lot on their shoulders. A lot of them end up divorced because they are away a lot. They get no help from the government like they should and they put their lives on the line for us. They are hurting inside and their dreams are nightmares. Be kind and recognize that they are still humans.”