GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Lisa Groves has a heart for veterans. That's why the West Virginia woman is driving across America. An advocate for veterans who may be hurting or forgotten; she often visits nursing homes and homeless camps.
Her Jeep is covered with signatures and messages from veterans.
"This man right here lived in Oregon. I met him. He's a Vietnam veteran," Groves said as she pointed to one of the many names on her vehicle.
Groves herself is a disabled Army vet. She is especially drawn to those veterans who may be hurting or without hope.
"I tell every veteran, I ask them all the time, 'Anybody ever told you they love you?' They say 'no.' And I say, 'well I love you.' And I really do love them, because it's hurtful when you are not loved."
She reaches out to the vets with love in her heart and often a teddy bear in hand.
"These are comfort. These are comfort to veterans and their families and children," she said, clutching several stuffed bears.
Hero Bear is her favorite; a well worn companion, often covered with tears.
"A lot of veterans have sat in my car and they have cried on him sick, and they have cried on him when they're telling their stories. This is USA soldier bear. He sings the Army song."
Along with touching lives, she's hoping to change attitudes along the journey.
"People need to get some knowledge and realize when you see a little homeless veteran out there on the street, he may be dirty and stinking, but he is somebody. Somebody's father, somebody's grandfather, somebody's son. Don't drive by and be evil."
Lisa Groves will be sharing love: whether it's a kind word, a huggable bear or just an open heart.
"It's all about happiness with me. If a veteran is happy, I'm happy. If they're sad, I'm going to be sad. If they're hurting, I'm going to hurt. This mission is very important. Making sure no veteran is left behind," said the mother of four.
This is actually her second trip across America advocating for veterans. She made a similar journey in 2011, visiting 48 different states.