NEW PORT RICHEY (FOX 13) - A 95-year-old World War II veteran is the official greeter at the New Port Richey VA clinic and the time and money he spends as a volunteer there is almost unbelievable.
Tony Caruso is the first person you see when you walk through the clinic's doors.
"I love it. I love to be with the people, try to help them," Caruso told FOX 13 News. "I've got about 17,000 hours. I work four days a week."
His volunteer work at the VA spans two decades, but he always greets patients with a smile. But when he talks about war, his mood changes.
"No, no, no, can't talk about that. No, no," he insisted.
Caruso was only 21 when he landed on Omaha Beach during D-Day, the Allied invasion to free Europe from Nazi occupation.
"It was hell," Caruso finally said.
"People floating in the water, dead. Uh, no," he added, placing his head in his hands.
Caruso immigrated to America from Italy in 1937. He was only 16. Like many poor immigrants, he worked numerous jobs to support his family.
"I started working in the junk shop for a dollar a day. When I got paid the first week, I got $6. I went to my father and said, 'I got &6, I'm rich.' He says, 'no no no,'" Caruso recalled.
In spite of his accomplishments since then, he has not been without lifelong hardships. Today, Caruso is legally blind, but that doesn't stop him from showing up at the VA.
In addition to the time he spends there, getting there is another of Caruso's challenges. He spends $200 a month for taxi fair to get to and from the VA.
"I'm a very tough person. If I put my mind to do something, it's going to be done and that's all there is to it," Caruso said.
You'd expect nothing less from a proud patriot who is a member of America's Greatest Generation.