A picture of Texas A&M Cadet Kevin Ivey holding his sleeping six-year-old son, Calvin, during a football game has gone viral, and it’s easy to see why. The photo itself is touching, but the story behind it is more inspirational than anyone could imagine. When the Commandant of the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets shared the photo, someone came forward to make sure that story got told.
Ivey is an eight-year veteran of the Marine Corps, who went on deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan. He also got married and had a little boy — Calvin — but his time in the military took its toll, and before long, he was a single dad, raising Calvin by himself. When his time in the Marine Corps was up, he decided to go to Texas A&M and join their Corps of Cadets, inspired by his commanding officer, who was an Aggie. Ivey was accepted into Delta Company, the small group of veterans among the 2,500 cadets. But making his dream of becoming an Aggie a reality was more difficult than he had originally planned. The transition from military to civilian life is not easy, and for Ivey, finding an apartment on a limited budget was especially difficult, as each apartment he looked at was demanding deposits that he couldn’t afford. A hotel was out, too, because he needed to save the money he did have for an eventual deposit and his first month’s rent. So he and Calvin did the only thing they could: they slept in his truck, right there in the Texas A&M parking lot. And that’s what they did for two nights until campus police came knocking on their window.
Ivy expected to be in trouble. But the officers were veterans too, and they noticed his Marine Corps license plate. They asked him about his service, and what happened next, Ivey didn’t see coming. The officer explained, “Between the three of us military veteran officers, we knew we couldn’t leave a fellow veteran and his young son sleeping in their truck on a hot summer night. We decided to all chip in some money to get Kevin and son a hotel for the night. We offered the hotel to Kevin, and he quickly said he did not want charity or a handout. We told him it was neither of those. It was fellow veterans taking care of another veteran in need. As a veteran family, we have given so much for our country. If we can’t at least take care of each other how can we expect others to help us? I specifically told Kevin that he was now joining another large family, the Aggie Family. I’ll be damned if I let another veteran Aggie go in need without me trying to do whatever I can to help them.”
The next day, Ivey and his son found an apartment. The rest is social media history. And, as Ramirez said when he shared the photo that would go viral, “THIS is what our Corps – and our country – is all about.”