Call for Help to 209 Times Leads to Iraq Veteran Helping Vietnam Veteran in Distress
By Frank Gayaldo
Lathrop- Vietnam Veteran, 71 year old Paul Childs was feeling at his wits end when he sent a message to 209 Times asking for help. “I need your help to turn in guns I don’t feel safe” read the message received by staff and forwarded to CEO Founder Motecuzoma Patrick Sanchez. “We get messages all the time asking for help for all kinds of things, sometimes beyond our means. But, this was a first”, said Sanchez.
After vetting the account sending the messages, 209 Times crew member Patricia Alvarez called Childs to assess the situation with him directly. Having a background working in social services for many years, Alvarez determined that in fact the situation was legitimate and that Childs was a 71 year old veteran. Sheriff Patrick Withrow was also notified out of caution as it was determined Childs did not want to reach out to law enforcement, which prompted him to reach out to 209 Times for assistance noting the many times he’s seen crew members helping members of the community.
After being briefed of the gravity of the situation and fact that a veteran was involved, Motecuzoma Sanchez, a veteran of the Marine Corps himself who was deployed for Operation Enduring Freedom/Iraqi Freedom, decided to answer the call personally and put together a quick react team of his friends to travel to Childs and assist him.
Through a coordinated response Alvarez stayed on the phone with Childs while Sanchez and his friends drove to meet him in a public setting. “When we arrived I approached Mr. Childs who was expecting me and spoke to him . I also identified myself as a veteran to let him know we were there to help him and had his best interests in mind. He seemed apprehensive, but relieved someone was there he could speak to”, said Sanchez.
Childs explained the current stressors, combined with past traumas including PTSD from serving two years in Vietnam as well as the tragic loss of his son, that were contributing to his current request for help and feeling that it was not in his best interest and safety to be around his firearms.
Wanting to be a responsible gun owner and citizen, Childs and Sanchez discussed a solution and Sanchez called Sheriff Withrow so he and Childs could discuss the different options for a safe transfer. After agreeing to the terms, Childs thanked the Sanchez, RJ, and Markis for staying with him to ensure a safe interaction with police while guns were involved.
Sheriff deputies arrived and were very accommodating towards Childs and a safe transfer was made while he was provided a receipt for his weapons to recover at a later date. “At first I was embarrassed to ask for help. I tried reaching out to a few others I could think of, but no one responded except for 209 Times. I think it’s important for men to talk about our mental health and not be ashamed. This was not easy for me to do, but if I can do it maybe I can be a light for others who may also be in need”, exclaimed Childs with a smile.
“I think it’s important to address Veteran mental health and not forget the service they provided to our county. We really need to focus on the mental health aspect of men in general. We’re often left out of the conversation, but it’s very important. I’m glad we could be of assistance today for this gentleman”, said Markis Scrivens.
A new national lifeline,9-8-8 is also available to anyone in distress.