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Veteran inspires fellow veterans and staff at Green Bay Veterans Manor

Since 2015, the Green Bay Veterans Manor has helped dozens of veterans overcome homelessness and other obstacles thanks to affordable housing and support.

One veteran is giving back in a very sweet way.

Mark Luedtke has had a busy spring collecting sap from maple trees– and making homemade syrup to share with his fellow veterans and staff.

He did the same thing last summer, planting several garden boxes and providing pickles and other vegetables.

“I think what I get out of it is the connection to those memories of when I was a kid because for me it’s not about the syrup or the pickles, it’s like I could keep it all for myself and be like yeah, I have all this stuff but that’s not really what’s in it for me, it’s the connection to those memories,” says Mark.

Memories, a lot more pleasant than those from his tour in Iraq in 2004, when he lost friends and nearly his own life.

“I had a couple of near-death experiences myself while I was over there, I was like right there when one landed outside one of the buildings I was just coming out of,” recalls Mark.

Back home, and unaware he suffered from PTSD; Mark says life became a struggle.

“And I really didn’t know, and I couldn’t really figure it out, it’s just, something felt wrong,” explains Mark.

In 2016, a decade later, Mark says he finally hit rock bottom.

After spending three months in treatment at a VA hospital, where he learned he had PTSD, he came to live at the Green Bay Veterans Manor.

Initially, he rarely left his room, but that changed over time.

“It’s felt like more of a home than any other place that I’ve been at because it isn’t just an apartment complex, everybody here is a veteran, so it’s more of a community,” says Mark.

And since last summer, Mark has become a pretty popular guy.

“They’ll see me walking outside and they’ll say, hey the pickle man or now it’s, hey syrup man,” says Mark with a chuckle.

Mark’s talents though, go beyond his syrup and pickles.

He just finished his bachelor’s degree in psychology from UW-Green Bay and is now in a master’s program with dreams of becoming a counselor.

“I’m very proud of Mark, very proud, I’m glad he is out, I’m glad he is communicating with others in the building now instead of just sitting in 500 square feet, so he’s doing wonderful, wonderful and he should be proud of himself,” says Tanya Puyleart, Director of Operations for Cardinal Capital Management, which manages the Green Bay Veterans Manor.

“Where I am now it’s like I would’ve never imagined I could have come from there to here, it’s definitely something,” says Mark with a smile.

If you would like to make a donation to the veterans at the Green Bay Veterans Manor, call 920-410-3216.

You may also visit their website at https://www.veteransmanor.com