Veterans receive recognition for helping out
October 25, 2012
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (October 25, 2012) -- Many people see the older gentlemen shuttling elderly and disabled patients around the Lyster Army Health Clinic parking lot in a golf cart, but few recognize the honorable deed they complete each day.
Col. James A. Laterza, U.S. Army Aeromedical Center commander, acknowledged the seven veteran volunteers who operate the golf cart shuttle Oct. 17 in a ceremony at Lyster.
"I wanted to make a special opportunity just to reward these men for their volunteerism. I thought it would be appropriate, and right, to recognize these guys that volunteer at least once a week to drive our patients around," said Laterza.
The commander continued his praise for the men, most of whom are veterans who served in Korea, Vietnam and Germany.
"The only reason [the volunteers] don't drive in the rain is because of insurance, not because they wouldn't do it. I am so thrilled to have a program like this -- the mission could not be completed without these guys," he said. "There are a lot of older folks, 80 or 90, that won't take a ride unless they are invited to ride in the cart. This is quite a service we can offer them."
Laterza thanked each man individually and gave his coin to each one.
Laterza reminded the audience that some of the veteran volunteers and veteran patrons of Lyster were not appreciated during their time of service to America.
"Nowadays, every Soldier that comes back from war is welcomed and is told how much they are appreciated, but that hasn't happened for a lot of wars. I know a lot of Soldiers couldn't wear the uniform in public back then," he said.
Bobby Enfinger, the coordinator for the golf cart drivers and a Vietnam veteran, agreed with Laterza and encouraged everyone to say "thank you" to all service members.
"What we do is a gift for those coming back and for those who have served in earlier wars. Just remember, if you see a man or lady that has a WW1, WW2, or Korea insignia or hat, just tell them thank you for their many services. You wouldn't believe how many will have tears in their eyes just from a thank you," he said.
There are currently seven veteran volunteers who drive the cart during Lyster's operating hours, each driver's shift lasts from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m.
"We are just veterans helping other veterans and spouses and our wounded warriors by [chauffeuring them to and from Lyster parking lot.] We also look for elderly in the parking lot who can't walk too well and we can get them a wheelchair for their time at the clinic," said Enfinger.
The golf cart was donated to the hospital more than a year ago and Enfinger hopes that more volunteers will sign up to drive it.
"We need more volunteers. Please come out to help vets, their Families and wounded Soldiers by driving the cart. We would love to have more drivers come if they could. Drivers do not have to be a veteran. Anyone who has some spare time that they would like to donate can drive the cart as long as they are 18 and in good standing," he said, adding that they would welcome five or more volunteers.
The veterans who were recognized were: Jack Caldwell Jr., who entered the Army in June 1969 and retired from the Alabama National Guard in 2001; Oliver Copeland, who served in the Army from August 1968 to September 1988; Danny Doss, who entered the Air Force in February 1963 and retired after 22 years; Bobby Enfinger, who was drafted into the Army in 1969 and was selected as the Vietnam Veteran of the year for 2012; Moses Fryer, who was drafted into the Army in 1966 and retired after 25 years of service; Jack Harper, who served in the Army from 1963 to 1967 on the East and West German and Russian borders; and Edward Sanders, who served in the Navy from 1963 to 1967 and was based in Subic Bay, Philippines.
Enfinger said that all the veterans enjoy volunteering at Lyster, because if they didn't they wouldn't keep coming back for drive duty.
"This is a pleasure to come out and work at Lyster; it is for all of us. We are dedicated, older men who enjoy what we do to help others. I couldn't ask for a better place to come and serve the men of our country the way that we do out here," he said.