MACCLENNY, Fla. -- A group in Baker County is making sure local veterans are taken care of, including their transportation.
Husband and father of two Justin Sikes, 27, served as Military Police in the United States Army for eight years. He said he enlisted at 18 but multiple missions in the Middle East left him with severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
"I have outbursts where I go into these rage outfits and I can't stop them," Sikes said.
"I have nightmares every night. I wake up and I walk around the house and check the doors make sure they're locked, make sure no one is walking on my property."
Sikes used to walk miles to and from work at a scrap yard in Macclenny, but things started to change for him a few weeks ago when the nonprofit group, the Baker County Veterans Council, gave him a truck.
"I remember when they called me that morning, my knees almost went limp. I became ecstatic and I didn't know how to react. I didn't know how to express happiness. I haven't been happy since 2004."
"For a veteran and his family to be able to become self sufficient and have a quality life again after serving this country, it's the least that can be done," explains Veterans Council Commander Milton O'Neill.
O'Neill said the truck was donated to the council and Justin was chosen out of a number of qualified candidates.
He said Justin's mother has already noticed a difference.
"She recently she told me that she is seeing signs of her son that she hasn't seen since he left to go to war," O'Neill said.
"Having the car makes me not think so much about what's happened before. It's like a fresh start," Sikes said.
But the story doesn't end with Sikes. O'Neill said the council just received a second car donation from a woman in New York.
"I just got off the phone with one of the council members saying 'Boy, wouldn't it be great if we got another one of these cars and we could do something for another veteran?'" he said. "I literally almost fell to my knees when she called me."
O'Neill said the council will vote on who will get the next car April 18th.
The Veterans Council is accepting applications for the next two weeks.
Three members will conduct interviews and make presentations about the applicants before the council votes on the 18th. Council members will present the car to its new owner shortly after.
Applicants must be residents of Baker County who have received an honorable or general discharge and are in need of transportation. For more information, call Milton O'Neill (904) 608-9839 with the Baker County Veterans Council.
First Coast News