(ABC News)–A year ago, Curtis Butler, III was homeless and sleeping in his car. He
attempted suicide twice. This week, he is giving money to those less
Butler, 45, is a two-tour veteran of the Iraq war who suffers from
post-traumatic stress disorder. When he returned home with his
disability, he was initially denied benefits and he fell on hard times.
He lost contact with his children. He had no home, no money and no
hope. Twice, he overdosed on pills and alcohol.
“I figured nobody cared about me,” Butler told ABC News. “I had to
worry about paying bills. I didn't love myself or anyone else.”
But Butler finally did get his benefits and turned his life around. On
Monday, he made the holidays a little bit easier for two dozen
strangers. Butler was standing in line at a Georgia Power office
waiting to pay his utility bill. He heard another customer talking
about how difficult it had been to make ends meet. He paid that
couple's $230 bill and then kept going. When he was finished, he had
doled out $2,000 to pay power bills for 20 people.
“This was the anniversary of me being homeless and now I am putting smiles on other people's faces,” Butler told ABC News.
One woman's power had been turned off at her home because she didn't
have any money to pay her bill. Butler paid it for her and then gave
her more cash for her children.
“I told her, your kids can't open their presents on Christmas morning
with no lights on… And now, they have more money for food or presents,”
Genice Harris, a clerk at the Georgia Power office told ABC affiliate
WSB that everyone was stunned. “I could tell it was spontaneous and he
was smiling and people were like, 'I can't believe this.' They actually
started taking pictures with this guy,” Harris said.
She choked back tears as she talked about Butler. “There really is a
God and…. He does send people to help others that are in need,” Harris
“I have been there and done it, been close to eating out of trash
cans….I was the one on the street with my hand out asking for some
change,” Butler told ABC News. “God put me in that predicament, so that
one day I could help others.”
Butler has written a book about living with PTSD and he has a website to
promote his efforts advocating new programs for disabled veterans. In
his book, “PTSD: My Story, Please Listen!” he writes about returning
home and falling on hard times.
“Just because we have PTSD, doesn't mean we are not good people,” Butler
said. “We come back from fighting in a war and we can't get a job… It
is hard to tell your kid that 'I can't support you because I am homeless
after fighting for our country.'”
But Butler now is getting the help he needs. He gets counseling
through his church. He reconnected with his children. And now he owns
an apartment and is about to get married.
“One night I prayed and I asked God, 'can you reveal to me my wife?' And
he said, 'Yeah stupid, you sit next to [her in ] church every
Sunday'….God works miracles and wonders every day,” Butler said.
This is not the first time he has been a Good Samaritan. Last year, he
bought haircuts for 200 homeless vets and the people of his community.
Butler says he knows all about falling on hard times and is happy now
that he can be generous with others. As for next year's good deed,
Butler hasn't decided. “Me and God are going to talk about that,” he
Copyright 2012 by ABC News