Roscoe Howard knows the importance of teamwork when it comes to a fight.
As the 72-year-old Vietnam veteran battles Parkinson’s disease and prostate cancer, he has the benefit of a strong community on his side.
Howard and his wife, Martha, who live in Grimesland, have received aid from Semper Fi and America’s Fund (The Fund), a national nonprofit group founded by military spouses that supports combat wounded, critically ill and injured service members, veterans and families across all armed services branches.
Howard enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1969 and was soon deployed to South Vietnam. After serving two tours, he decided to join the National Guard. He spent 20 years in service, including a 1990 stint in Saudi Arabia when he was a 1st Sergeant.
Howard returned to Fort Bragg following his service in Saudi Arabia. He then reported to Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, for surgery on his neck. He rehabbed there for a year and retired from the service in 1994.
After his return to Grimesland years later, Howard was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and realized he needed assistance. He had lost contact with family doctors, receiving all care through the VA Hospital in Pitt County. That’s when his neighbor told him about The Fund and how it could help.
“We were not that familiar with what they could do,” Martha said. “The first thing that The Fund did was send a welcome home package of comfort food. That kind of blew our minds because we actually had never been treated that well.”
Along with the food, The Fund sent gift cards for hygiene and medical supplies. It also helped connect Howard with family doctors to supplement his care through the VA. Working with the VA hospital, The Fund has helped Howard get a medical mattress so he can get out of bed more easily, and made modifications to his home to ease his day-to-day functions.