A former “scaredy-cat” who never drove after dark, 76-year-old Joan Gaudet now thinks nothing of heading out into snowstorms at 2 a.m. to support America’s fighting men and women.
Since 2003, Gaudet has been making 24-mile round trips between her home in Bradley, Maine, and Bangor International Airport to meet with soldiers headed for, or returning from, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Gaudet and two other volunteers with the nonprofit Maine Troop Greeters are featured in a 90-minute documentary to air on PBS’ POV series on Nov. 11 (9 p.m. ET, check local listings). The Way We Get By is an award-winning film about aging directed by Gaudet’s son, Aron.
Joan Gaudet ignores a bad back to meet troops, because “you can tell they really appreciate it,” she says. Outgoing flights tend to be tough emotionally for Gaudet, who had two grandchildren serving in Iraq before they returned home safely.
Blair S. Walker, who frequently writes for the AARP Bulletin, lives in Miami.