By Fort Sill Tribune staffJune 27, 2019
FORT SILL, Okla. (June 27, 2019) -- Sitting on a bench outside the Lawton-Fort Sill Veterans Center Capt. Ray Goins, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Field Artillery S3 operations officer, talks to former Soldier Luther Butler, age 69.
For the next hour they will talk about the movie "Aladdin," the Lord, and, of course, swap war stories. The great conversation and warm breeze makes the time pass quickly.
The routine is something Goins does about every 10 days as he visits aged veterans at the center's Alzheimer wing. He's been visiting regularly since he arrived at Fort Sill about one year ago.
"God inspires me to come here, and I leave here enriched," said Goins of his frequent visits.
Goins first learned about the veterans center when he was a student in the Field Artillery Basic Officer Leader Course here in July 2014.
"I was super blessed in that my BOLC's class service project was coming here and visiting the veterans," said Goins, who graduated from the United States Military Academy in 2014. "So I knew of the place, and the people in it."
Goins sees about three veterans regularly, including retired Sgt. 1st Class Avery Hall, who left the Army at Fort Sill in 1972. Hall said he looks forward to Goins coming around.
"I really enjoy seeing him," Hall said. "He loves us veterans because he's here so much."
Hall said they talk about many things: How they are doing, their experiences in the Army, and anything else that's on their minds.
Hall said he even called the command sergeant major at 2-2nd FA, and let him know how much he appreciates Goins' visits.
Goins said he visits partly because he misses his grandparents who live in South Carolina. He added that his grandfather was a Vietnam-era Soldier with the 1st Infantry Division Band.
Goins said when he had more time he used to also visit homebound seniors in Lawton's Catholic community.
"We'd bring the sacraments to them, the holy communion, and pray with them," he said.
And, he has also visited patients at Comanche County Memorial Hospital with its chaplain.
Goins said he does volunteer work on his own. He is not logging his hours through the Army Community Services' Volunteer Management Information System or VMIS, nor working toward the Armed Forces Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal.
"I have used it (VMIS) while I was stationed in Korea, but I haven't used it here," he said.
None of the aged veterans whom Goins visited has died. Once they moved Butler's room, and Goins became alarmed when he couldn't find him.
"I thought he was gone," said Goins. "That was not OK."
Goins encouraged the community to visit the veterans.
"I hope people who can visit will visit to meet the people who led the way."
Goins will soon have to stop seeing the elder veterans because he is leaving active duty to attend seminary school in Maryland in August.