EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Marine Corps Veteran, Michael Thompson, spends his days in a dialysis clinic.
It’s a place where people who have kidney failure go and have their blood manually filtered just as their kidneys should do.
The first thing you see when walking to Thompson’s door is a marine corps symbol painted on his driveway.
“Once a marine always a marine,” said Thompson.
He joined the Marine Corps at age 18; turning down a scholarship to play college football.
During the 1990’s, Thompson was stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
It wasn’t until a few years ago that he was notified by the VA that his recent kidney failure was related to contaminated water he drank while stationed at Lejeune. However, he says the marines prepared him to face any problem.
“I’ll always have those dreams, but there was just something about serving my country,” said Thompson.
“From the first night that I stepped onto those yellow footprints and started the boot camp, we were taught right away that you’re going to get certain things that are going to get thrown at you,” said Thompson, “they’re not going to come when you expect it and it’s not going to come at the most pleasant times and it’s not even going to come announced.”
Due to his illness, Michael had to recently quit his job with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and give up being a basketball referee. However, he says his sacrifices are small compared to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
One thing Michael says helps him feel better is when strangers thank him for his services and he wants to remind everyone to thank a veteran every chance you get.