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Veteran Uses Stimulus Check to Support Health Care Workers in Orlando

After over 20 years in the Marines and deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, John Alicea knows how it feels to be supported on the front lines of a crisis. So when he received his stimulus check amid the COVID-19 pandemic, John decided to pay it forward — literally — and use it to buy meals for health care workers in Orlando.

“When we were in combat, you took care of us,” said John, who fondly remembers the support he received after he was wounded in combat. “This is my token of appreciation.”

John bought 75 lunches for staff at Dr. P. Phillips Hospital and AdventHealth East Orlando. Rosa Miranda, a nurse at Dr. P. Phillips, said she and her team were shocked by John’s act of kindness.

“He gave with a smile, and I was amazed,” Rosa said. “He’s a very good man.”

Upon delivering the food and seeing the reactions of the nurses and doctors, John felt a sense of happiness he had not experienced in years. After a long military career and subsequent tenure working in the federal prison system, he said he lost the feeling of true happiness. John’s donation and ensuing emotions brought that back and left him in tears.

“I cried my ass off driving home from the hospital,” John said.

The Marine acknowledges that he may not have made the same decision had the timing of the pandemic been different. It wasn’t long ago that John said he hit “rock bottom,” isolating in his home and coping with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). After leaving the military and his role in the prison system, John missed the camaraderie from both organizations and struggled to establish his new identity.

That changed when John connected with Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP). He attended a veterans mental health workshop, called Project Odyssey®, with other veterans, and he felt like he belonged again.

“They saved me,” John said.

As part of the 12-week program, he now connects with this group every week to discuss progress toward their goals and their respective lives. In addition to a new support system, John has developed new coping skills to manage his PTSD. Specifically, he has learned the practice of reflection, which he demonstrated when he received his stimulus check.

In that state of reflection, he thought back to his service in the Marines and his leadership and protection of others, and he felt an immediate connection to today’s frontline health care workers. He then concluded what he wanted to do: give his stimulus money to the people who are protecting the country today just like he did for so many years.

“I want people to understand that these frontline health care workers are just as tough as veterans,” John said. “If they take care of veterans, we can do the same for them.”

Contact: Jon Blauvelt — Public Relations,, 904.426.9756

About Wounded Warrior Project

Since 2003, Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) has been meeting the growing needs of warriors, their families, and caregivers — helping them achieve their highest ambition. Learn more.


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