A family reunion 12 years in the making.
Thanks to an act of kindness by a Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputy, a disabled veteran panhandling on the streets of West Palm Beach was recently reunited with his relatives for the first time in over a decade.
“It was probably one of the highlights of my career,” Deputy Adam Robinson said.
Mr. J’s unlikely path to find his family started two years ago.
“I noticed he was sitting on the sidewalk at Congress and Westgate Avenue, and he was holding a sign that said ‘Air Force Veteran’,” Robinson said.
They exchanged a few words and seconds later, Robinson said that’s when he decided to go above and beyond the call of duty.
He learned Mr. J had lost contact with his family and that he lived in a shed. The disabled veteran also explained how he'd been wearing the same clothes for a while and did not eat well.
“I saw the conditions that he was living in. No veteran should ever live like that," Robinson said. "Every time it rained, it would pour right onto him in his bed."
Robinson called up some volunteers and they were able to fix Mr. J’s shed right before Hurricane Matthew.
They also provided him with food, medicine, clothing and other necessities as they searched for his family.
“I just did what everybody else in the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office would do,” Robinson said.
Mr. J was in the U.S. Air Force in the late seventies.
He worked in construction after that. Then his life changed in 2014, when he became wheelchair bound after being hit by a car.
“He also had some cognitive problems because of a car accident, so getting information about who his family is was a little difficult,” Robinson said.
Finding Mr. J’s family was no easy task; he only remembered his sister’s name.
“I finally found her on Facebook, of all things,” Robinson said.
And on the Fourth of July, a day we celebrate America's independence and honor veterans, Mr. J’s dream came true.
His relatives flew from Cleveland, Ohio to West Palm Beach.
Robinson said this was the culmination of over two years of work trying to reunite Mr. J with his family.
“I’m glad he’s back home with his family, and they’re taking care of him of how he needs to be,” he said.
Mr. J was not available for comment Thursday evening.
His sisters tell CBS12 News they are forever grateful for Deputy Robinson’s act of kindness.