Small acts can make a big difference. And that’s particularly true when it comes to helping veterans of the armed forces.
Twenty years ago, veteran Jim Childers began volunteering with the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Chapter 16 of Jacksonville, North Carolina, driving veterans to their medical appointments in the organization’s van. His help is essential for those vets whose disabilities or age make it impossible for them to transport themselves.
As of April, Childers has driven that van 157,000 miles in the service of 1,300 vets — chauffeuring them to North Carolina Veterans Affairs hospitals in Durham, Fayetteville, and Chapel Hill. That mileage is the highest accumulated by any DAV volunteer driver in the nation.
“It feels great to help veterans in need,” Childers told Thomas Brennan of the Jacksonville Daily News. “It’s a way for physically able veterans to help other veterans get the services and medical treatment they deserve.”
Retired from his civil service job since 1997, Childers jumped at the chance to transport veterans when he learned that the VA would let him use their van. “The most rewarding thing is when we return back to the chapter and a veteran says thank you for making it possible for them to get to their doctor’s appointment,” he told Brennan.
Doug Lawson, a veteran service officer with the DAV told Brennan, “I think it is in his DNA to help veterans in any way possible, day or night. Because of dedicated drivers like him, it is a lot easier to get all of the veterans to their needed VA appointments. Most veterans get burnt out either physically or mentally working that many hours with no pay. Not Jim.”
Last year, Governor Pat McCrory presented Childers with The Order of the Long Leaf Pine award, which is given to people who’ve provided extraordinary service to the state of North Carolina.
Thankfully, Childers is finally getting the recognition he so richly deserves.
MORE: Remembering a World War II Vet Who Gave 3,000 Fellow Vets a Final Salute