Buffalo - Veteran helping Veterans
Written by Megan Juba
Buffalo sits on a folding chair in the Murdoch’s parking lot next to his dented BMW, donated to him years ago. On white plastic tables he has carefully displayed his silhouette painted rocks and signs that say things like, “No Cure for Stupid.” There is a faded and bent business card duct taped in the center that reads “Vets for Vets,” with his personal phone number. Each piece of art costs ten dollars and has been crafted by his own hands.
Buffalo laughs and pats his belly, “I’m not as aerodynamic as I once was.” If it weren’t for his huge smile, he could be somewhat intimidating – a large man, wearing full camo, a dark Army cap, and a cane propped next to his folding chair, which he jokes he’d hit you with if needed. He has been called “Buffalo” since the age of 17 because only a buffalo could have survived what he has in his lifetime. But, he is the softest buffalo you’ll ever meet. Each person that comes to his table sees themselves in his reflective sunglasses and ends up telling a piece of their own story to him in turn. Each conversation starts with a smile and a sarcastic comment like, “I’m a hell of a guy, just ask me” and ends with Buffalo leaning sideways on his chair to put bills into his worn leather wallet and a sincere, “Thank you for supporting the veterans.”
Vets for Vets was formed over drinks with two friends. “We met to get drunk because we are all in the same squad. There was a guy who came by who needed some help and we each gave him some money.” He looks at his arms and goosebumps raise there. He smiles and shakes his head and says, “It just felt so good!” It was decided that “we would use our individual skills and raise money to help other veterans.” Money raised buys a vet’s family a Christmas – the tree, decorations, full meal and all gifts. Buffalo goes to businesses to buy gift cards and their generosity in giving him more than what he asks makes him emotional, for the first time he brings his glasses down to wipe his wet blue eyes. He also takes veterans in wheelchairs to Walmart so they can buy new clothes. Using his cane to push himself a little taller, he sits up with pride and a seriousness in his voice he says, “Watching that monkey jump off the veteran's back is such a feeling.”