LAKEWOOD, Ohio — The word "veteran" truly encompasses Lakewood native Lee Shepherd. After all, he is a U.S. Army veteran-turned-VA employee for 15 years.
"I really had never experienced anything like it," Shepherd told 3News. "It was very rewarding."
Shepherd said the honor to serve in the military pushed him to work with veterans daily at the VA. He says he loved planning field trips and setting up activities for veterans in the community.
However, the very job Shepherd loved came to an abrupt stop in April, when he was diagnosed with COVID-19. He found himself in a different kind of war, an invisible one that lurks among us each and every day.
"I'm really emotional," he said of his experience. "You felt like any day you could have left here. I'm 65 years old and I feel like I've lived my life, and today I am living for my grandkids and great grandkids."
Shepherd spent six days in the hospital with pneumonia, but his grandchildren pushed him to fight through it. He says he is blessed for making it through some of his darkest days in the hospital.
Fast forward to November, and on this Veteran's Day, Shepherd continues working with his fellow veterans, now virtually. He does it all for the men and women who've given so much to protect our freedom, heroes who we thank for their endless service.
"They are my comrades," he gushed. "There is nothing I wouldn't do for these guys, and I love what I do. They mean the world to me."