Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Ex-homeless Vietnam veteran Marine giving back

Formerly Homeless Veteran Gets Help, Now Gives Back

NBC Bay Area
By Garvin Thomas
Published Feb 19, 2019
One day, a Concord police officer checking on Bartell noticed the United States Marine Corp tattoo on Bartell's right arm. "He said, 'You're a veteran? You shouldn't be homeless,'" Bartell said. "I told him, 'Yeah, I've heard that before.'"

To witness 70-year-old Mike Bartell smiling, laughing, and caring for others while volunteering for the San Francisco Marin Food Bank, is to see a man who looks like he's had a lifetime of experience spreading joy.

Bartell, however, is quick to point out that if you were to ask anyone who knew him at an earlier age, they would tell a different tale.

"They wouldn't believe it," Bartell said. "That grumpy old person ... what happened to him?"

What happened is that Bartell discovered, very late in life, that it's never too late to turn one's life around.

"No, never," Bartell said. "I'm glad I didn't give up on myself and I'm glad other people didn't give up on me."

Both of those, it should be noted, were real possibilities for Bartell.

Bartell is someone who had suffered more than his fair share of indignities and trauma during his life. Bartell's father abandoned his family and his mother committed suicide when he was just six. After a childhood in and out of juvenile facilities and foster homes, Bartell joined the Marines and saw combat in Vietnam. Returning home, Bartell married a couple of times and had children but said he never conquered his ever-constant anger.
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