RGV Veteran Gets Assistance after Years Without Electricity

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SAN JUAN – A Rio Grande Valley veteran is finally seeking help years after living without electricity and unaware of the resources around him.

Although Ralph Brixius’ home in San Juan has a strong foundation on the outside, the inside is cluttered with years of neglect.

"It's embarrassing because I’ve never lived like this before. I’ve always been able to take care of myself and I’ve always been able to do that,” he told CHANNEL 5 NEWS.

Brixius said he inherited the house from his mother. He would visit her in Houston every weekend after she fell ill.

"I knew she was going to die and I just wanted to spend as much time with her as I could with her,” said Brixius.

Brixius explained he lost his job because of the visits. Then, injuries to his back made it hard for him to find work.

"I have inherited disks in my lower back,” he said.

Brixius said he’s been living without electricity for more than five years. He said these conditions are taking a toll on his well-being.

"It's to the point when sometimes I go to sleep at night and just pray I don't wake up,” he said.

Brixius gets medical assistance from Veterans Affairs Department. But it's not enough.

America's Last Patrol Commander Richard Pena heard about Brixius’ situation.

"He needed help a long time ago and it just took him this long for him to come around and accept it,” said Pena.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS also called Hidalgo County Community Service Agency director Jaime Longoria.

"We put a little program together where we try to identify veterans that are in need of certain kind of services,” said Longoria.

Longoria took a closer look at the Brixius' living conditions. He immediately started the process to get services.

"The primary focus of course is health and safety, is insuring that from a health and safety perspective he's OK and that is to look at the bare necessities making sure he's out of the heat,” he said. “Well certainly we have a little bit of money available to be able to insure we got him in a safe place.”

Pena wants other veterans to know help is in the Valley.

"We got to take care of our veterans. If we don't do who's going to do it?” he questioned. “That's what we're here for. We can help you, we can help you.”

Brixius says he's ready to move forward.

"The thing I most want is some kind of job that I can actually do. I don't tell people to just give me stuff. I'm still young enough, I’m able to do a lot of stuff,” he said.

Longoria said they’re going to be working with agencies like the city of San Juan to see what can be done to get Brixius’ utilities working again.

Starting next week, CHANNEL 5 NEWS will be focusing on veterans and the challenges they face. We'll be highlighting several issues in our Heart of the Valley series like homelessness, suicide prevention and healthcare.


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