Aid A Veteran dedicated to helping local vets

By LARRY C. BOWERS Banner Staff Writer
Posted 1/2/16

Aid A Veteran, a new nonprofit which assists veterans in Bradley and Hamilton counties, is completing its first year of a successful existence.

This new organization attempts to aid local veterans …

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Aid A Veteran dedicated to helping local vets

Posted

Aid A Veteran, a new nonprofit which assists veterans in Bradley and Hamilton counties, is completing its first year of a successful existence.

This new organization attempts to aid local veterans in times of need, providing help in a multitude of situations.

Billy Dyer of Cleveland serves as the president and chief executive officer of this new nonprofit, while Shane Hutcheson is the director of operations and chief operating officer. These two run the program, although they have several volunteers.

Hutcheson said the assistance agency was founded with a lot of collaboration between himself and Dyer.

He said Aid A Veteran is dedicated to helping veterans of the nation’s armed services who have fallen on hard times. It assists with shelter, clothing, utilities, food, auto repair and even job placement.

The only requirement for assistance is an honorable discharge from the military, and verification of the need (or needs) a veteran may have.

Funds for the project, and assistance to veterans, are raised by direct donations, or from the sale of memorabilia items such as magnets and bracelets at booths which are set up at restaurants and businesses in Bradley and Hamilton counties.

“We want to get the word out about what we are trying to do, and what the money is being used for,” said Hutcheson at a Tuesday program at Cleveland’s Veterans of Foreign Wars Chapter on North Ocoee.

Dyer and Hutcheson provided assistance to four families on Tuesday.

Larry Dortis, who served in Vietnam, is getting assistance for the brakes in his automobile; LaSha and Brian Zanoska were getting some toys for their children, Blaine and Daysia. James Howard, who was also getting some toys, has been assisted by the organization in finding a job.

One other family was assisted, but was unable to participate in the photograph session. The mom was receiving some help with utilities and auto repairs.

Also attending the event were U.S. Marine recruiting officers Winfield Thompson and Matthew Gurley with the Toys for Tots Program.

Hutcheson, who attended Tuesday’s event with his young daughter, Brittney, said Aid A Veteran has spent more than $10,000 in assisting 10 to 15 veterans this year.

He added that the organization does not just focus on the individual veterans when providing assistance, but on the family unit.

He added that assistance is not just for the holiday season, but for times of need throughout the year.

“We want to get the word out,” he said Tuesday. “We want to let people know that we are trying to help our veterans in their times of need, as an acknowledgement of their services to our nation.”

Dyer emphasized that too many of our veterans are homeless. He said it is estimated that on any given night, 131,000 veterans are homeless in America.

A handout sheet from Dyer and Hutcheson added that 12 percent of the homeless in America are veterans, 47 percent are Vietnam-era veterans (like Dortis), 17 percent are post-Vietnam veterans, 15 percent are pre-Vietnam veterans, 67 percent served three or more years, and 33 percent served in a war zone.

They said many veterans suffer from lingering service-related health issues and mental illnesses,­ such as post traumatic stress disorder. They said these veterans need our help.

The agency’s founders added that the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans claim the most effective programs for homeless veterans are local opportunities and community fellowship.

They said this is what they are trying to accomplish with Aid A Veteran, and they are well pleased with the acceptance and support the program has received during its first year.

For more information about Aid A Veteran, you can call 303-9791 or go online to www.aidaveteran.org. You can also go to Aid A Veteran on Facebook.

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