FACT: It has been 50 years since the start of the Vietnam War.
does not pass when I don’t think of a guy I helped while in the Army
then,” shared Doug “Papa” Dee, “and I am committed to helping fellow
Vets every day as long as I am able now.”
In 1970-71, while on
active duty in Vietnam, Doug was a field medic. Recently Doug shared a
sad statistic. “I had personal interaction with about 300 Vietnam
Veterans who succumbed to their injuries and did not survive. Their
names appear on the Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC. This is the stark
reality of Vietnam,” reflected Doug.
In the years which followed
active duty, Papa Doug has made lasting friendships with Vets needing
assistance, identified supportive veteran-friendly agencies, and has
networked with other caring people and companies who wish to lend Vets a
hand, when needed.
This Vietnam Veteran, who personally suffers
from with the effects of agent orange and post-traumatic stress
disorder, used his own military disability income to create a
not-for-profit which he calls, Papa’s Helping Vets Inc. Doug is not shy
about sharing his mission and vision to collect, warehouse, and
distribute gently used furniture and household goods to veterans
referred by local agencies.
“There should never be a veteran
sleeping under a bridge in the Quad Cities as long as I can help,”
lamented Papa Doug. “I am rewarded with the look on their faces when I
can help them furnish a place of their own.”
The Need for the Giver to Give
long as I am physically able, I will call on businesses, speak to
groups, boost Vet’s spirits, return phone calls… whatever it takes to
raise funds, find gently used furniture to pick up, restore and
distribute to Vets starting over,” explained Papa.
that the Quad City new I-74 bridge project had earmarked several
businesses for relocation. He made personal calls to owners, including
Eric and Reid Trimble with Trimble Funeral Home. Doug was familiar with
Veterans Funeral Care, as he had requested information for himself. This
time he requested time to explain the services of Papa’s Helping Vets.
His request was simple. Would the funeral home have any items from the
100-year building scheduled for demolition that would not fit in with
the décor of the brand new Trimble Pointe life event center on 12th St.
Papa received a resounding “Yes!” from Reid Trimble.
“We are honored to help Veterans in any way,” continued Reid. Veterans
Funeral Care has been recognized as a Commemorative Partner for the 50th
Anniversary Vietnam War recognition for its willingness to assist and
support a grateful nation in thanking and honoring Vietnam War Veterans.
The Trimble staff labeled items for donation and started a long
list for Papa’s Helping Vets. Papa arrived a few days later with his
strongest men to carry chairs, desks, tables, lamps, and sofas to load
into his trucks and 28-foot trailers. On one day, Papa and team made
four round trips to their warehouse space in Rock Island.
big dining room table and chairs where delivered to a Vet with a large
young family within 24 hours of pick-up. Then, 60 percent of all of the
Trimble items were delivered to Veterans within the first week! Our need
is so great. Recently we have had lots of requests from younger Vets
returning from Middle East deployments who need to transition into a
stable living environment. These young families are requesting single
beds for kids, high chairs, and even bassinets. We don’t have any in the
warehouse and desperately need donations,” said Papa.
How you can help
make a financial donation, donate professional services, or donate used
furniture or household items, call Papa at 1-309-269-7302. If you know
of a Vet needing assistance, advise them to enroll with a VA agency,
which will make a professional referral to Papa’s Helping Vets.
Funeral Care (VFC) is now located at Trimble Pointe, 701 12th St.
Moline. In recognition of Veteran’s Day, VFC is sponsoring two events
free of charge to any veteran and guest. On Nov. 7 at 11:30 a.m,. VFC
is a presenting sponsor of a Veteran Recognition Luncheon at the Milan
Community Center. On Nov. 12 at 6:30 p.m., VFC will host a Pointe of
View showing of the documentary, “Coming Home,” as a part of the
Embracing our Military initiative with WQPT public broadcasting. For
more information, call Veterans Funeral Care at 309-764-VETS (8387).
Photos courtesy of Trimble Funeral Home