• 70°

Her journey helps veterans

Lisa Groves stands in front of her vehicle and shows off “Hero Bear,” a teddy bear that she allows veterans to hug for comfort. Groves said Hero Bear has several stains from veterans’ tears. Her vehicle is covered in the signatures of veterans and other citizens who support her mission.

Lisa Groves stands in front of her vehicle and shows off “Hero Bear,” a teddy bear that she allows veterans to hug for comfort. Groves said Hero Bear has several stains from veterans’ tears. Her vehicle is covered in the signatures of veterans and other citizens who support her mission.

There are many people who say they “support the troops.” Lisa Groves puts her words into action.

Groves, a U.S. Army veteran from Institute, Va., passed through Atmore last week while on a cross-country trek to help veterans throughout the U.S. She said her goal is to eventually travel 49 states (each state except Hawaii), as well as several provinces in Canada.

Groves began her journey on June 2, 2013, and Alabama is her 28th state to visit. She brings food, supplies, and comfort to homeless veterans or veterans in need that she meets during her travels.

“I just want to let our veterans know that I appreciate them, and I love them, and I’m here to help,” she said.

Groves made a similar trip several years ago, and passed through Atmore in November 2011. She completed that first journey around Christmas Eve that year, and said when she got home her Facebook and email accounts were full of messages from veterans who were still in need.

“There were so many emails from veterans who said, ‘You forgot about us,’” Groves said. “I didn’t want to hear that, because it hurts me. I want to help every veteran that I can. The messages came from Canada, Mexico, Alaska, Puerto Rico, and throughout the U.S.

“I said, give me a minute and I’ll get back out on the highway as soon as I can.”

It’s easy to spot Groves when she’s on the road. Her white vehicle is covered with the signatures and well-wishes of veterans and other citizens who she has met on her travels.

Inside, the vehicle is crammed full of food, clothing, diapers, personal hygiene items, and many other supplies.

“Some of the homeless veterans who I visit, all they want is some soap and shampoo to get cleaned up,” she said. “I don’t know if people really have an idea of just how much some of our heroes are suffering out there.”

Groves’ daughter, Trishcelle Willis, lives in Atmore and is also a veteran. Groves spent several days visiting Willis before getting right back on the road Friday.

For more on this story, see the Wednesday, March 12, edition of The Atmore Advance.