Board of DirectorsDr. Douglas E. KrugBoard memberPhD, Clinical PsychologistOffice: (254) 979-1102Cell: (254) 977-3731Walter G. SpangBoard MemberVeteranJoe MartinBoard memberVeteranWeb Developer/Graphics DesignOffice: (254) 366-8797Dannis “Chief” LozanoDirector in MemorialVeteran
Counseling, Advocacy, Shelter, Mentoring & Employment
OUR MISSION STATEMENT
Erath County Veterans, Inc. was founded to provide for the needs of veterans residing in Texas.
Memo of Understanding
PressInterviews of Bradley Oglesby and Walter Spang on KSTV.
It will air on Sunday show between 8:00 to 9:30AM.
Walt & Bradley,
It was both an honor and a privilege to have the two of you as my guests on the Sunday Morning Gospel Show on Memorial Day Sunday! It was a hoot to say the least. I really do appreciate what you both have done for America! God bless you and God bless America!
Remembering those who died to keep us free,
Grieg Mayberry 213 Sharp Drive Stephenville TX 76401 (254) 977-2230 cell
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People in actionGeorge Bolt
Former military man spends days helping vets
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By AMANDA KIMBLE
His mission to serve "comrade veterans" was spurred by a military draft.
While the Vietnam War left George Bolt, 64, with little choice when it came to signing on with the United States Army, he became a volunteer not long after receiving his draft card.
"Since LBJ (President Lyndon Baines Johnson) was having to dig that deep, I volunteered to go Airborne after I was drafted," Bolt said.
It is more than mere coincidence that Bolt, who served as a combat medic in the Tet Offensive from 1968-1969, is still living the life of a caretaker. In fact, Bolt said driving the Stephenville shuttle for the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs is the perfect medicine for his PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). He said the symptoms and suffering associated with PTSD varies by individual diagnosis and called his own a "medical" condition.
"I am a compulsive helper," Bolt said. "The worst thing that could happen to me is to not be able to assist my comrade veterans."
While it could have been jest - or Bolt simply being honest - about his volunteerism, he said his motivation is a bit selfish.
"It's all about self-gratification," he said. "So I can sleep at night and feel better about myself."
Bolt is one of three men who volunteer to transport veterans from Stephenville and the surrounding area to appointments at Olin E. Teague Medical Center in Temple, Waco VA (Veterans Affairs) Medical Center and the Brownwood VA Clinic every week.
"Vietnam veterans are getting to be the older veterans," Bolt said. "After the van ride, we go into the hospital together and come out together. Nobody gets to leave before the last person is seen. That's where conversation comes in, the social aspect."
When it comes to volunteering, Bolt said he would not have signed on with just any service.
"I can't help everyone, but I can help veterans," he said. "That is what I do."
The assistance Bolt offers to veterans and their families doesn't stop when the van is returned to its parking place at the Erath County Sheriff's Office.
"I went through the (VA) system," he said. "When I run into a veteran with problems, I share my knowledge. I know a bit about how to navigate the system. I ask them if they have a VA card and if they do, I will do anything I can to help because that shows they are a documented veteran and trying to help themselves."
Bolt is also a member of the Patriot Guard Riders - another volunteer service organization on wheels. The group is an unofficial organization of leather-clad veterans and motorcycle enthusiasts who use freedom of speech - and their intimidating appearance - to surround grieving families at the funerals of fallen soldiers.
"We surround the family with a circle of flags, covering protest placards," Bolt said. "The family doesn't need that at that time."
The Stephenville Shuttle has tallied more than 200,000 miles since it got rolling almost six years ago.
VA shuttle coordinator Robin Ritchie said the dedication of three men - Bolt, Dean Slayton and Winsett Reddock - keep it going.
"George (Bolt) is a caretaker, just like he was a caretaker in the service," Ritchie said. "Dean and Winsett are not military, they simply have a need to serve and that is all that is required."
For those interested in becoming a volunteer driver, call volunteer services in Temple at 800-423-2111 to request an application to serve the Stephenville shuttle system.
Veterans needing a ride to medical appointments, should call 965-2689.
In honor of National Volunteer Month, the E-T will feature an Erath County volunteer every Friday in April. If you know someone who deserves to be included in this series, call Amanda Kimble at 968-2379, ext. 238.
By AMANDA KIMBLE
Walter G. Spang has just one goal.
"My ultimate goal is to establish a campus - a place for veterans - in Erath County," Spang said.
By campus, Spang means a facility that caters to military vets and their varied needs with on-site care and services.
"Some veterans out there can't handle life on the outside, they need living quarters," Spang said. "There are other veterans who need another type of assistance - they can live independently but still need assistance with basic needs. And then there are those that need 24-hour care."
He and others manning the front lines of Erath County Veterans, Inc. hope to one day provide hospice care to allow veterans to "close out their lives in honor and with dignity."
Spang said he envisions Erath as one day having such a facility, which could serve as a blueprint to similar organizations across the United States.
"Erath County is the type of place where that goal can be accomplished in an atmosphere that could serve as a model for the nation," he said. "Our service organizations are on board, but their hands are tied in so many areas. They do not have the ability to offer long-term
solutions and they have to rely on the VA (The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs)."
He said offering needed services and accommodations in the county will give veterans a sense of freedom.
"I firmly believe veterans have earned the right to live where they choose," Spang said. "We are good at giving then a one-way bus ticket to (Dallas-Fort Worth) Metroplex, but we (in Erath County) can offer an environment that gives them peace of mind and quiet, and also allow them to be among other vets. We currently have vets in nursing homes that deserve to be surrounded by others they can relate to and give them that needed sense of comradery."
Spang is a Vietnam vet who knows all too well about the struggles veterans face. He has been disabled since 1969 and said in 1970 he received "bad treatment" from the VA.
"We had just bought a house. We were living in New Jersey at the time. My mortgage payment was the same as monthly compensation," he said. "Then one day, the VA decided there had been an error and they had at some point made double benefit payments. They said they were going to stop sending payments until they had paid themselves back."
The compensation that Spang relied on to pay the family's mortgage added up to about $239 per month. When the benefits were interrupted, he could no longer afford the payments.
"It was a very bad experience," Spang said. "It took us at least 10 years to climb out of that hole and after that experience, I wanted nothing to do with the VA."
In the early 1980s, Spang's health took a turn for the worse when a staph infection attacked his heart. He said the infection originated from a surgery several years earlier at a Naval hospital.
"I didn't even report it (the 1980s ailment) because I was afraid everything would get screwed up again," he said.
Then in 2007, Spang went to a local PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) meeting at the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) hall.
"I decided there were too many things wrong, I had too many health problems," he said. "I couldn't deal with the day-to-day anymore."
It was at that meeting that Spang discovered there were other veterans from across the county who could help.
"They helped me see what was really wrong and helped me with the process," he said. "And I am finally getting what I need."
He quickly learned the fight for services was about knowing how to file claims and the need to be persistent in seeking benefits and services.
"You have to stay on top of it," Spang said. "The process takes months, even years."
While Spang said he may not see his goal become a reality, he will spend his life working to bring a local safety net to fellow vets.
"I don't expect to live a lot longer, myself," he said. "Agent Orange is slowly killing me. I would be surprised if I live another 10 years, but when I do go, I want to leave something behind. I want to know when I check out that I was able to do something and make a difference."
Erath County Veterans Inc.
According to Spang, founder and chairman of the Erath County Veterans board of directors, the organization's mission statement speaks to the goals of the board.
"Erath County Veterans Inc. was founded to provide for the needs of veterans residing in Erath County including but not limited to shelter, food, clothing, counseling, advocacy, financial assistance, physical welfare, spiritual welfare, medical assistance and employment counseling. We shall provide by the best of our ability to meet those needs utilizing donated funds, internal ECV assets and volunteers as well as other service organizations," the mission statement reads.
Spang said when he set out on the mission, he saw a lack of support and exposure for those who provide assistance.
"We have a county service officer - Arley Echols - at the Erath County Courthouse (Annex), but I would bet the majority of our local veterans don't even know he exists. We have DAV service officers - I am one of them - and always available, but the word has to get out so they know we are here to help."
It was a call from Echols that led Spang to join forces with Pecan Valley MHMR, where he serves as a certified peer-to-peer counselor for veterans suffering from PTSD. He said that meeting also spurred the subsequent formation of ECV with the help of a few friends.
How you can help
ECV is seeking volunteers.
"I would give one of my kidneys for a doctor to say he wants to join the board," he said, adding that volunteers of all ages, backgrounds and abilities are welcome. "We are limited only by our imagination and our abilities to accomplish these goals. Our veterans answered the call and served our country admirably. Some have served at an enormous price. We can only try by the best of our abilities to provide a proper thank you."
For those who don't have the time to volunteer, monetary gifts are also needed.
For more information, call Spang at 254-965-5595 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donations can be mailed to Erath County Veterans Inc. at P.O. Box 2567 Stephenville, TX 76401.