In the past month or so, those who call the Tennessee Valley home have welcomed some real American Heroes home from war. Some of them marched in formation until being dismissed where they ran to the open arms of their loved ones. Others, who’ve lost limbs to IEDs or have been shot, use a cane or wheelchair to get around. Their lives have changed forever. But some volunteers are helping change the lives of those veterans and others.
“We’re helping our own,” says Joe Shiver who volunteers as a ramp builder. “That’s exactly what it’s all about. We started this out wanting to give back to the community and we found out that veterans were in need of it and we’re all veterans. We’re all retired military so you better believe that we’re going to help our own.”
Joe is with the Warrant Officers Association. The group is one of the teams that builds ramps for CASA of Madison County. Since October 2006, they’ve built 72 ramps. And they’ll add to that list when CASA does it’s after Christmas Ramp Build Blitz December 27th, 28th and 29th. They’ll build three ramps in three days.
Another volunteer, Max Bennett says, “A bunch of guys get together, have breakfast. You get to work together. You get to play together. It only takes four or five hours to put a ramp together. We teach you how to do it. It’s easy to do and it’s a great civic thing to do for the city.”
If you know how to use a hammer, a tape measure, pencil and paint brush, they’ll put you to work. It also helps if you know how to have fun. Volunteer Johnie Keeter adds, “We have a good time doing these and that was rule number one, you know, the first thing we’re going to do is have fun but we know what the business is at hand and we’ll get out and do it and in the long run have a good time and the enjoyment of knowing that somebody’s going to benefit from out being able to do something like this.”
When the last nail is driven and you step back and admire your work, you’ll also know that you’ve helped make the life of a veteran or senior a little bit better. And you’ll feel good as well. “It’s a very good feeling,” says Keeter. “Being a veteran and all of the other members in our association are veterans, it’s a good feeling when you can do something for someone that betters their life.”
Not only will you make a new friend for life, you might even get to listen to some vets share their experiences before they came home from war. “It’s great,” says Shiver. “We’re telling war stories you know, because we all have them so we listen to their war stories. They listen to ours. It’s just great.”
If you’d like to volunteer to help with CASA’s after Christmas ramp build blitz later this month, click here for more information.