Veteran once alone in ICU now by his mother's side

Thanks to the generosity of the community in Military City USA, a veteran with a collapsed lung was reunited with his mom in San Antonio.

SAN ANTONIO - Jacob Mitchell, a 22-year-old Air Force veteran, captured the heart of Military City USA.

He was alone and scared in the Intensive Care Unit earlier this week after suffering a collapsed lung.

His girlfriend brought him to the Audie Murphy Memorial Veterans Affairs Hospital in San Antonio, but she had to go back to work in Del Rio.

His mom lives in Ohio, but simply could not afford a plane ticket.

Thanks to the San Antonio community and others across the country, that's all changed.

"I can't say thank you enough. San Antonio, you helped me get to my son," said Jacob's mother, Andrea Mitchell-Stine.

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She arrived in San Antonio Saturday evening.

Just days ago, KENS 5 interviewed Jacob while he was in the ICU.

Moments after the story ran during Wednesday's 5 o'clock newscast, the phone rang non-stop at the VA hospital.

"After the story ran, I got an overwhelming amount of support from Military City USA," said Mitchell.

The visitor log recorded at least 100 people who dropped in to keep the veteran company.

"I definitely want to say thank you for everyone who came out, especially Marcus Rubio," said Mitchell. "He's the very first person who I saw, and he definitely made me feel like there was an angel with me."

"I love the care I got from the VA and all the nurses here, the staff. My girlfriend's grandmother, she got to come out here," he added.

Also after the report, a retired San Antonio policeman who wished to remain anonymous bought Jacob's mother a plane ticket from Ohio.

It didn't stop there. The generous donor also purchased a week's worth of stays at a hotel and a rental car.

To say 'thank you', Andrea said, wouldn't be enough.

"[Jacob] had people coming from Corpus Christi to see him," said Mitchell-Stine. "He received well wishers from as far away as California, and even our home state of Ohio."

"The Drews from A Combat Veteran, they really showed up," she added. "Thanks to the Air Force Airmen NCO and Senior NCO's. There was a flood of his brothers and sisters, veterans from each and every branch that were here."

Law enforcement, first responders and strangers were on standby, ready to fill the void until Jacob's mother could arrive.

"What can we send him? Does he need pajamas? Does he need toilet paper? Does he need toothbrushes? What does he do to keep busy? Does he want an XBOX?" said Mitchell-Stine of the Good Samaritans she said she has spoken with.

Jacob is now in the Progressive Care Unit still being monitored frequently.

Next, he will go through rehab and follow-up hospital visits.

"I appreciate what everyone has done for me, just being there whenever I needed them. It's just overwhelming," he said.

A YouCaring page to fly Andrea home raised more than $15,000.

The family plans to pay it forward, perhaps starting a movement to help all veterans who are alone in the hospital.

"I had told the anonymous donor before all of this that I hoped one day we could repay his kindness ten-fold," said Mitchell-Stine. "I believe that doing that and giving service to the community is the biggest thing we could do."

"The veteran community and just the community of San Antonio, it's a big family," said Mitchell.

© 2017 KENS-TV


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