A Georgia man who has gone homeless for eight years after suffering an extreme case of amnesia is getting help online in a bid to get a crucial piece to a new life for himself — a new social security number.
Kyle’s struggles with retrograde amnesia are also depicted in the short documentary Finding Benjaman. The film, released last month, explains that his current name was a matter of convenience.
“I was found behind a dumpster at a Burger King in 2004,” he said. “I don’t know how I got there, and I have no memories of what my actual name is.”
Kyle was found naked and covered with fire ants by authorities and was unresponsive. His name was given to him at the time because the hospital he was taken to already had a “John Doe,” the usual name given to unidentified patients.
Without any form of identification or a Social Security card, Kyle said, he was shuffled around hospitals, and briefly became a cause celebre, with multiple media outlets covering his story, including The Dr. Phil Show.
But multiple fingerprinting attempts by the Federal Bureau of Investigation failed to turn up a match, leaving him without not only an identity, but struggling to secure employment or a place to stay, even at homeless shelters, until last month, when another news story on his condition led to viewers offering him both a job and a place to live. Florida State Sen. Bill Nelson (D) and state Rep. Mike Weinstein (R) also advocated on Kyle’s behalf.
“You can’t leave this fella without an identity,” Nelson said. “The government has got to respond.”
Besides the film, Kyle also took part in a Reddit AMA last month explaining his condition.
“For all practical intents and purposes, I don’t exist,” Kyle said.
But John Wikstrom, who directed the documentary, said he thinks the online interest in Kyle’s case will lead to a breakthrough.
“I’ve been working on this for almost two years now,” Wikstrom said. “I truly believe within the next month, people all over the country will get him a new Social Security number.”
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