VFW veterans are on a mission in Independence

VFW veterans are on a mission in Independence

Steven Whiston is an Independence, Kansas disabled Vietnam veteran who had all but given up on getting assistance from the V.A.

“For me, every time I tried it, I got the runaround. I couldn’t get any answers, and they’d pass me around,” said Whiston, recalling his enrollment attempts.

But things changed when Steven got in touch with his fellow veterans at the Independence VFW. Even though Steven wasn’t a member, they made it their mission to get him help.

“So these guys, I tell them what I need. They went to the V.A., spoke to who they needed to, and got it done,” said Whiston.

But this wasn’t a one-and-done mission. These veterans have been helping other local veterans in and around Montgomery county, deal with paperwork and other hurdles of enrolling in the V.A., since January of last year.

And to them, it’s a matter of life and death.

“Twenty-two veterans a day are committing suicide throughout the country. That’s pretty well-known. Of those 22, 14 of them are not being treated at the V.A. They’re not enrolled in V.A. healthcare. They’re not getting any of the benefits they may be entitled to for their military service,” said Ryan York, an Iraq veteran and post commander for the Independence VFW.

And there’s one more element to their mission. These vets want you to think “help for veterans” when you think of the VFW, and not just a local watering hole for heroes.

“We are working very hard to change our image from a social club or bar-type setting to a service organization that helps veterans. That’s why we were originally established,” said York.

If you’d like to donate to their mission and help these veterans help other veterans, give the Independence, Kansas VFW a call at 620-331-6010 and ask for Donny Collier or Ryan York.