Curtis Butler III has recently be named the first recipient of Clifford “T.I.” Harris’ “Give Like a King” campaign. The international rap artist selected Butler for his “Paying it Forward” story.
STOCKBRIDGE — Imagine standing in line to pay a utility bill and a good Samaritan pays your bill. That is exactly what happened to several people recently at the Eagle’s Landing Stockbridge Georgia Power office.
“I heard this lady and man talking about not being able to pay their bill,” said Curtis Butler III. “After I paid their bill, I asked, ‘Does anybody in here want their bill paid?’ The people said, yes!”
Butler, 45, said he paid 15 to 20 Georgia Power customers’ bills Dec. 3 — more than $1,700 overall. He said that day, he stood in between two lines and the customer service window paying bills simultaneously. Butler said he returned the following day and paid three more customers’ electric bills.
“It wasn’t my call,” he said. “It was God’s call. I heard God say go ahead and bless them. Now, my book sales are going through the roof since listening to God’s voice. When He speaks and you obey, God does things in a major way. When God says bless somebody you do what He says not what man says.”
His generosity was born out of a bout with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, out of being twice homeless and living in his car. In October and November of 2010, his auto was home after being evicted twice.
Butler has penned a book entitled “PTSD: My Story, Please Listen!” It starts with his childhood and continues through his adult life. Butler said 80 percent of the book is about being in the military and dealing with his daily struggles with PTSD.
Georgia Power spokesperson John Kraft said, Butler’s Paying it Forward story is on the company’s Facebook and Twitter page.
“It was very generous of him,” Kraft said. “It was an action that he took on his own.”
Butler said people called him, asking why he did not call them to pay their power bills.
“I told them if I had called you, it wouldn’t be the blessing God told me to do,” Butler said. “But, thank God I was faithful. I get to help out and bless more veterans. Hopefully we can clean up the streets of homeless veterans.”
Butler served in the United States Army Reserve from 1989 until 1991, and a short stint in the U.S. Navy in 1991. He returned to the U.S. Army from 2001 until 2007. He is father to six girls and one boy.
“How do you tell your kids you are homeless after fighting two wars?” Butler asked.
“My bills were totaling $3,000 per month. I was only getting $789 a month,” he added.
Butler said he only received that money, which was 50 percent of his veterans disability check. He said he was diagnosed with anxiety in 2007 by Veterans Administration (VA) doctors in El Paso, Texas. Later he was diagnosed with anxiety and (PTSD) by United Behavioral Health doctors in El Paso.
However, the Veterans Administration officials initially denied Butler’s Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
“One doctor said anxiety and the other said I had PTSD, but the VA still denied benefits and kept me at 50 percent of my benefits,” he said.
In 2011, the VA apologized about the misdiagnosis, according to Butler.
“I really appreciated that, it took the sting out of the bite a little bit, and that is when I got my benefits,” Butler said. “It stormed on me for about four and half years. But now God has rainbows covering me. It is a beautiful thing for my kids. I can bless more homeless veterans now.”
Butler said he was able to be a financial blessing to others by using the back payments he received from the VA.
When Henry County renowned rap artist Clifford Harris, better known as “T.I.,” heard about Butler’s story, he chose the army veteran as the first recipient of his “Give like a King” campaign, according to Nikki Barjon, media representative for “Give like a King.”
“This is our first initiative working with homeless veterans with a goal of raising awareness around the issues of veteran homelessness,” Barjon said. “It is a global humanitarian campaign to encourage others to give back to the community and get involved.”
Barjon said the “Give like a King” campaign team chooses the King of the month. However, it is Harris, who gives the final approval of the team’s selection.
“This one was very easy because we followed his paying it forward story in the media,” she said. “It was a unanimous decision to recognize him as the first king.”
“To live like a king, you must be willing to give like a king. With that being said, it gives me great honor and privilege to give to those who deserve it the most — our veterans,” said Harris.
Barjon said they launched the campaign Dec. 14. The campaign will be ongoing and Harris is scheduled to promote the new campaign while on tour.
“T.I. shared that he plans to engage his fans, and work especially hard to inspire younger demographics to get serious about community involvement, humanitarian efforts and giving back,” she added.