Veteran living in tent almost 2 years since fire destroyed home

Just grin and bear it is something that a Southwest Florida veteran says he has been telling himself for ever since his home burned down in a fire.

Henry Schulman, an honorable-discharged veteran, lost his home in Golden Gate Estates almost two years ago in an electrical fire.

“I’m just fortunate to be here standing in a shell hopefully rebuilt a year from now,” Schulman said.

The shell is what is left of his home, after the fire destroyed everything but the concrete blocks. Schulman has been living in a tent since July of 2017 because of that. He said the American Red Cross and The Salvation Army have helped him, but he still needs a home.

“It’s just season-by-season,” Schulman said. “Just one day at a time.”

Schulman woke up at 2 a.m. to his bedroom in flames almost two years ago. Greater Naples Fire Rescue District crews responded to his home on Lee Williams Road, but his roof and everything inside burned.

“Being ex-military, that’s sort of like trained me to sustain in a tent and be able to grin and bear it, but people shouldn’t have to be like that, Schulman said.

With the help of red cross, he’s gone through multiple tarps that he uses to keep the rain off his tent. His last tent didn’t survive the brush fire season.

He says he’s in a bad situation, but knows it could be much worse.

“Today’s Memorial Day,” Schulman said. “Honor our fallen soldiers, men and woman. I look at it that way…other people have it worse.”

In the fire report, it said crews had a difficult time getting to the home because of overgrown trees. Firefighters urge all homeowners to make sure there is a clear path for first responders to get to you in case of emergency.

Still, Schulman hopes he can get help and have a sturdy roof over his head this season.

“It’s depressing at times,” Schulman said. “There’s ups and downs. Life’s a roller coaster. But right now, I’m down. And there’s only one way to go, and that’s up.”

Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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