The plight of homeless veterans has gotten so bad that the United States Veterans Administration has put out a call that they're determined to put an end to it once and for all by 2015. Wouldn't that be amazing? No more homeless veterans? It's a nice thought, but how do you make it happen? Could it be as simple as making over these folks and helping them find the person they once were?
Maybe not, but a video of an incredible makeover of a homeless man named Jim Wolf has gone viral and turned the US Army veteran's life around in one fell swoop. It may be the most life-affirming thing I've seen in a long, long while.
Take a look, but do me a favor, when you get to about 2:05, really make sure you're paying attention. That's where the true magic happens:
Did you see it? The moment when Jim Wolf saw himself again? It was just there for a second, but there was a look that passed over his face that was pure magic.
The makeover was arranged by Dégagé Ministries, a Christian non-profit that "offers help and hope to homeless and disadvantaged individuals" in Grand Rapids, Michigan. They called on Design 1 Salon & Spa and Rob Bliss Creative who pitched in to do the actual work of giving Jim a spiffy new haircut and outfitting him in a suit.
The transformation is amazing.
But it's not just the new hair, the close-cropped beard, the nice clothes. That's not what's special about Jim Wolf's makeover. It's the look that passed through his eyes. He peeked in that mirror, and you could see he was proud of himself again. He looked like a man who would proudly fight for his country, a man who had something to live for.
That's what we often forget. It isn't just society that judges the homeless for their shaggy hair, their dirty fingernails, their ratty clothes. It's the homeless person judging themselves.
Just think about how you feel when you haven't been feeling really well, when you've laid on the couch in sweats for days, haven't showered or shaved. Now how do you feel when you finally get that shower and put on real clothes again?
It's transformative, isn't it?
Sure, there's more to changing the tide for our nation's homeless vets. There are often mental and emotional issues that must be dealt with. Jim himself is now in AA after years of battling alcoholism.
But to borrow an ancient saying from the philosophers, the journey of a 1,000 miles begins with a single step. What matters is getting that homeless veteran to WANT to take that step, to find that person they once were and show them that they could get that person back.
What is your favorite moment in this video?
Image via RobBlissCreative/YouTube