A Pennsylvania National Guard soldier is sharing her incredible story of giving this Veterans Day. She says her journey began when she returned from her first deployment to Iraq.
"It seemed to be Vietnam veterans really welcomed us home with open arms," she said. "I had a couple of them tell me they're doing this because when they came home, they weren't welcomed home in the same way and they wanted to make sure that never happens to another soldier again. That really touched me. That really meant something to me. It wasn't just one man that did this."
We're not identifying the 36-year-old by name because she doesn't want thanks or accolades for what she's giving: a massive portion of liver to a dying Vietnam veteran three states away.
"I wanted to do something really special for at least one of them; if not all of them, at least one of them," she said. "You know, you would take a bullet for the man next to you in a war zone. Well, what would you do for them when you came home?"
She's keeping the donation anonymous, writing the Connecticut veteran a letter with no signature. She says she wanted him to know why she's doing this, without expecting anything in return.
"I'd rather him just know that somebody is thankful, and it could be anybody, and someone is thankful for his service and welcomes him home," she said.
Her message to anyone who hears her story is simple: thank a veteran whenever you can.
"I recognize that what I'm doing is kind of a big thing. It's sort of a bigger deal that not everyone could do this sort of thing," she said. "But everybody can do something to thank any kind of veteran that they know and it would be appreciated."
Megan Healey has been documenting the donor's journey over the last three months. Coming up on Tuesday at 5:00 and 7:00, abc27 follows her to Connecticut, where a specialized surgeon agreed to do the "altruistic" liver transplant, which is rare in the medical community.