Disabled American Veterans fund-raiser this weekend
A disabled veteran who served two tours in Vietnam, Jim Billig stood quietly with Jr. ROTC member Marvin Smith in front of Lowe’s Home Improvement Saturday, gathering support for their cause.
“Forget-Me-Not Days” is a fund-raiser sponsored by Disabled American Veterans, an organization dedicated to building better lives for all disabled veterans and their families.
A small table held clusters of small blue flowers and two containers for donations. An official proclamation from Mayor Ray Masayko was taped to the table and customers walked by regularly, but didn’t stop.
The two didn’t seem to notice. Billig said fund-raising efforts are ongoing in front of a number of local businesses and this weekend’s effort, which ends today, should net between $8,000 and $10,000 for their cause.
“Most of the money goes to local vets,” Billig said. “It took us four years, but our local chapter bought a new van. It was very important, because lots of disabled veterans don’t have transportation. We drive them from Minden and Carson City to the VA hospital in Reno.”
A U.S. Army Sergeant for most of his 30-year career, Billig is soft-spoken and deliberate, his long gray hair drawn back in a pony tail. He remembers good times during his tours in Europe and bad times in Vietnam, where he fought in a number of places, including Pleiku and Qui Nhon.
“They say I’m 100 percent disabled, in part from agent orange exposure. I also have some psychological problems,” he said. “It’s hard not to go a little crazy, when you’re getting shot at all the time.”
Ramrod-straight and perfectly dressed in his ROTC uniform, Smith is a Carson High School sophomore. He spoke of the discipline of military life, the military history class he loves.
“I volunteered for this, because I need a certain number of community hours,” he said. “I want to attend West Point. I’d like to become a military policeman.”
With a hint of pride in his voice, Billig said he is still serving. Disabled American Veterans Chapter No. 7 in Carson City benefits veterans, widows, children and spouses from Minden to Fallon. The organization provides gifts for hospitalized vets at Christmas and this summer, sponsored an information booth at the Carson Farmer’s Market.
“Many vets aren’t aware of their benefits and entitlements,” he said.
Treaties are signed and battles end, but the personal battles of those disabled in war only begin when the guns fall silent, according to officials of the Veterans’ organization.
Formed in 1920 and chartered by Congress in 1932, the million-member organization is the official voice of America’s service-connected disabled veterans.
Made up exclusively of men and women disabled in our nation’s defense, it is not a government agency and receives no government funds.
YOU CAN HELP
Donations can be made at Raley’s, Albertson’s, Scolari’s, Smith’s and Lowe’s through noon today.
Call: Dave Wyble at 882-7864 or Jim Billig at 841-9629