(ABC Big 2/Fox 24) MIDLAND, Texas. — Rick Mitchell, a Veteran and former Sergeant in the 101st Airborne Division, has made it his mission to support a young boy in Kermit, whose dream of being in the military was interrupted by a recent medical diagnosis.

That young boy is 12-year-old Dylan Wise, who knew when he was in fourth grade that he wanted to attend West Point’s Military Academy and join the military.

“It’s always been a big life dream to be a part of the military, but since I became a diabetic, that kind of cut everything off,” said Dylan.

In July 2020, Wise was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and is insulin-dependent.

“Being insulin-dependent, you can’t join the military because you can’t be running around with an insulin bag attached to you all the time,” said Mitchell.

Dylan’s mom Auralia Wise, said despite the hospital visits and stays, “Dylan always makes sure that he’s there for everybody and always has a positive, upbeat attitude and is the most caring person I know.”

Mitchell wanted to show his support for the Wise’s dream and started collecting combat patches he wore on his uniform while serving in Iraqi Freedom. He plans to collect as many patches and coins that he can to finish a shadowbox and surprise Dylan with the late April gift.

Mitchell hopes that these authentic patches will help him get through the tough days and remember that there are always people who care about him.

“It makes me feel very humbled to think that this young man is only 12 and that he’s already got this huge dream of being a part of our military,” said LeAnne Thornton, a veteran who is helping Mitchell collect patches.

Thornton said if you have patches, or coins, hats, or military memorabilia that are gathering dust in a drawer, no one sees them, and they are not promised to a family member, they would be greatly appreciated. Thorton wants to let Dylan know “that there are veterans out there that appreciate him because he obviously appreciates us.”

“To take that off your uniform and give it to a little boy, I’m mean, that’s just something special, said Mitchell.

You can drop off your patches/coins/memorabilia at the VFW Post 4149 in Midland at 409 Veterans Airpark Ln, Midland, TX 79705 or mail them to c/o LeAnne Thornton – 3903 Placid Ct. – Midland, TX 79703.