DEMING – Work and a humble existence are two traits Jim Little never took for granted. The Vietnam veteran who survived a house fire that claimed a brother says he has plenty to be thankful for this Thanksgiving Day. “I worked most of my life until my health told me I could no longer do it. I don’t ask for much except for my family and especially my grandson,” Little told the Headlight.
How it went down
Now imagine how Little reacted to what he called “the surprise of my life” when he was visited by members of Veterans United Home Loans. The representative handed a folder that contained a letter from the organization’s Thanks to Veterans (#ThanksToVeterans) campaign. The letter informed Little that the home he was renting had been paid in full by Veterans United Home Loans. The rental had recently been put on the market for sale.
“I was so excited I did not have the words to express at that time,” Little said. “I still don’t have the words to explain how I feel. I never wanted anything special from the VA (Veterans Administration). It’s all been wonderful, and I don’t know how much better it can get. It’s been a blessing – that’s for sure.
“Being a veteran means a lot to me. I tried to work all my life for what I needed. But everybody needs a drink of water now and then.”
Thanks to Veterans
Veterans United has launched #ThanksToVeterans, honoring veterans such as Jim, not only for their service while in uniform, but for their lifetime of community service thereafter. As the initiative’s first expression of gratitude, the company is recognizing veterans who are making their communities stronger, safer, and better places to live.
In recognizing veterans who are making their communities stronger, safer, and better places to live we created a mini-documentary highlighting Jim and through that letter from Veterans United Home Loans is when he found out his home was paid in full.
Service to country
Jim enlisted in the Army in 1968 during the height of the Vietnam War. This was a time when the nation was divided on the war that would stretch for 12 years at a cost of more than 58,000 American lives. My best friend Samuel Nunn joined ahead of me and I followed,” Jim said. “He didn’t make it back. The day I was going to ship out to Vietnam, I asked if they would let me attend Samuel’s funeral, and they did.”
Jim served for three years and was in the conflict for 20 months as a heavy machine operator.
“People didn’t like us much,” Jim recalled upon his return home. “It was about service to my country. It meant a lot to me and I would still do it if I could. I’m sure they would find something for me to do. I would never turn away from that.”
Deming is home
Jim returned stateside in 1971 and began working for the family drilling business in Deming that his grandfather started in 1936. He did step away for a brief spell to drive trucks in the oil fields and worked as a cook at what used to be the Jord Inn at the Deming Truck Terminal.
“You need to have four or five skill sets to make a decent living these days,” Jim told the Headlight. “I was always working until I could no longer.”
A wheelchair-bound Jim looked back on the early October morning in 2020.
“I still don’t know how the fire started that day,” Jim said. “I think it may have had something to do with my brother’s smoking and the oxygen he needed in the home.”
Jim’s grandson stayed in the home that night while Jim slept in the Cantina – a shack he converted into an adjacent tool shed with a cot.
“My grandson got out of the home by breaking a window and jumping out,” Jim recalled. “He came and got me, but my brother Scott did not make it out.”
The home still stands and is a total loss. Fortunately, Jim found the rental home he is now living in just down the street on South Granite.
The Cantina was home for a spell. Jim began to experience a series of health issues that landed him in and out of the VA hospital las year.
Well enough to return to Deming, Jim found the current home he is renting and was directed to Veterans United Home Loans on a computer that led him to the #ThanksToVeterans program. I never asked for much, but I figured what is there to lose. I already lost my home to fire,” Jim said.
The program currently in a sweeps going for an 11th veteran to receive their dream home. The link is https://www.thankstoveterans.com/ where veterans can enter.
Jim carries a close bond with his 15-yearold grandson Matthew. “He’s here most of the time. He is like a sponge. He wants to suck up what all us old-timers know,” Jim said. The two share a love for hunting and fishing.
“None of this could have happened without Veterans United,” Jim said, his voice breaking. “I had no idea how this would turn out. The one thing I do know is you make the best of what you have and share that with others.”
Jim’s surprise link: https://www.thankstoveterans.com/jim/.