Disabled vet raising grandkids worries about staying healthy for them

Jeff Bobo • Dec 1, 2019 at 12:30 PM

KINGSPORT — There’s no shortage of challenges for a single, 70-year-old disabled Vietnam veteran raising his three small grandchildren — ages 4, 7, and 9 — by himself.

His monthly check never stretches far enough.

He has no vehicle, which makes it hard to get the kids to places like doctor’s offices.

However, the No. 1 concern for the grandpa, who asked to be identified only as “Pineapple,” is his ability to stay healthy long enough to see that the three children grow up in a good home with him, instead of being sent into foster care.

“I have to stay fit and take care of myself because as a Vietnam veteran I contracted illnesses while I was in the service,” Pineapple said. “I need to take care of myself so I can see my grandkids make it to the older stage and make something out of themselves.”

Pineapple, like many people struggling financially across the region, will rely on programs such as the Times News Rescue Fund to help provide a better Christmas. But that program relies on contributions from the public.

You can send your tax-deductible donation to: Times News Rescue Fund, 701 Lynn Garden Drive, Kingsport, TN 37660. Or donate online at https://rescuefund.timesnews.net.

“I signed all three of them up for the Angel Tree at the Salvation Army,” Pineapple said. “And whatever money I’ve got left over I need to pinch a little out to get something for each grandchild, but it’s not much. If it wasn’t for the Angel Tree, it would be most devastating for them. When Christmas comes, you’ve got to make kids happy. I want them to get something and see them smiling.”

Pineapple came to be in custody of his three grandchildren in much the same way that usually happens — due to his own children’s bad decisions that resulted in their being incarcerated and/or losing custody.

Raising three small children stretches Pineapple’s resources to the limit. 

“I’m just trying to make ends meet,” he said. “Even though I’m retired from driving trucks, and I’m also a 70% disabled Vietnam veteran, there’s not much extra left over at the end of the month by the time I pay the bills for basic needs. My priority is getting the kids what their needs are, and that takes all I’ve got.”

He added, “I have no wheels, no transportation whatsoever. I would love to have, if people are willing to help me get, a vehicle so I can take all three of my kids to their doctor appoints, their events, or whatever. I can’t because I got no wheels.”

When you’re raising three small grandchildren at the age of 70, Pineapple says you’ve just got to give them a lot of love, a lot of faith, and “believe in the Man upstairs.”

“You’ve got to have faith and a strong will and mind,” Pineapple said. “If it wasn’t for Grandpa, the kids would be headed to different foster care. You’ve got to have faith, friends, and the Man upstairs helps you out a lot too. If it wasn’t for him up there, I don’t think I would be able to handle it.”