A social worker with the Veterans Administration in Atlanta helped reunite Army veteran German Leon with his two sisters Marta Sallie and Anna Judge after 32-years all thanks to a Facebook message.
When Judge was contacted by the VA through Facebook, she thought it was a hoax. They had called hospitals and law enforcement all over Atlanta looking for him for years. They even hired a private investigator, The Post and Courier reports. A simple Facebook message was too good to be true.
“The first thing he said was, ‘Can I stay with you, Marta?’” Sallie said laughing about the first time she talked to her long-lost brother. “I was like, ‘Uh, yeah!’”
Leon joined the Army when he turned 18, but after three years of service, he said he was worried he was losing his mind. He ended up on the streets, becoming a statistic as a homeless veteran with mental illness. But thanks to a VA program designed to get veterans back on their feet, social worker Patrice Green began helping him put his life back together.
“His memory was poor, and he couldn’t really document his whereabouts and where he had been,” she said. “We went to various agencies in the city. Because he didn’t have his birth certificate because he didn’t have his green card, we were just met with a lot of ‘No’s’ and, ‘We can’t do this, we can’t do that.’”
So, she started looking for his family, hoping they had his paperwork. He remembered his sisters’ names but not where they lived or any details. They looked through online databases trying to narrow it down but ultimately found a dead end. So, they began messaging everyone on Facebook they thought might be related to Leon.
“Lo and behold, one day later, we get a call from Mr. Leon’s sister,” Green said.
“It was like a stranger, you know, but you also know that’s him. It was like starting all over again,” Judge said.
“We were just happy to see that he was alive,” Sallie said.
Leon said he would dream about the moment that he would be reunited with his family for years, saying it was what kept him alive while he was on the streets. “You know, I didn’t lose my hope. I knew I was going to see them, but it was a matter of when.”
He’s now equip with medication and a safe place to live but the sisters worry about how they can care for him and how he ended up this way.
“That’s why it’s so strange to see him like that, you know. You had a brother that had all his senses, and now it’s like he’s an 11-year-old,” Sallie said.
“We try not to ask what he’s been through,” Judge said, emphasizing the big picture. “It would be hard for him to explain to us, so we just go from here.”