For Osmany Hernandez, a chief warrant officer with the U.S. Army Reserve in Fort Knox in Kentucky, part of being a Christian is helping out people in his community.
That desire to help people in need took an even more personal turn after his youngest son, Roy, committed suicide in late 2012 after serving more than 10 years in the Army.
“This issue is when [soldiers] leave the Army, and they don’t have the umbrella of protection that the Army gives all of us," Hernandez told Fox News Latino recently. “They can’t go out there on their own, and even though he had me and his family, he decided to go to Puerto Rico by himself.”
He recalled, “He didn’t end up homeless, but he was always afraid that could happen to him.”
He went on, “Since then, I’ve been trying to help in every way, shape or form to avoid having homeless people out there. It was a difficult wake up call for me and my wife, but there is always hope.”
A little more than a year after his son’s passing, Hernandez was assigned to Fort Knox in early 2014. A fellow officer and friend took him to La Viña Multicultural Church in nearby Elizabethtown, which is where the healing started to happen.
“I was at the lowest point after he passed, and so we started to congregate here and started to recover,” Hernandez said. “I will miss him, but we have hope in our lives that we will see him again, and there are others that are still alive, who are veterans as well, and they need our support.”
The 59-year-old joined the community-outreach program at the church, which every year partners with other local churches and community centers to provide clothing items and meals to homeless people in the Radcliff and Elizabethtown area.
Last Christmas, more than 300 people went to the Pritchard Community Center in Elizabethtown to get clothes and warm food.
“It’s very fulfilling,” Hernandez said.
For Hernandez, who left Puerto Rico in the early 1980s to join the Army, helping the community is almost like coming full-circle for him, as he did his basic training at Fort Knox.
“Thirty years later, I am here at [U.S. Army Human Resources Command] in Fort Knox, waiting to retire,” he said, adding that he will begin the transition to retirement next month. “I think I’ve served the nation well … Now I want to influence in a different way.”
The reservist told FNL, “My intent after I retire is to continue to help. We are not going to stop helping others because I’m retiring – on the contrary, we are going to do it more because we have the means to help these people."
He added, “There are so many ways to help people.”