We continue to celebrate all that veterans have done for our country.
Tonight we talk with Lola Vanderwalle.
She founded the Quad City Veteran Outreach Center in Davenport.
The center opened four years ago and helped thousands of veterans across the area since then.
It started with 32 members now has nearly 2,000.
“It is not a hand out. it’s a hand up– it’s a thank you,” says Vanderwalle.”I said hey what can we do what can I do in memory of my father who fought in World War II at the age of 17. He was shot twice, and got the purple heart, and I thought I’m going to do something in his memory.”
That’s when the center was created. They offer a slew of free services including assisting with housing, haircuts, food giveaways, DVD and book exchanges, and helping to take care of the veterans pets.
“The fact again that we’re helping soldiers, sailors, airmen marines, you know any veteran,” says Don Arnes, Advisory Board Member for the center.
Arnes served in the Army for 22 years, but his service for vets is never ending.
“I always like helping the soldiers that want to advance their career you know you learn new skills. That kind of translates about what I like about here. While this is a thank you to any veteran it’s always a good feeling to help someone who could use it,” says Arnes.”
Vets like Vincent Martinez a World War II , and Korean War Veteran who served in the Navy when he was just 17 years old. He traveled the world to many states, and countries before he was injured.
“I was in the hospital for 11 months. My head got messed up,” says Martinez.
He was scheduled to go to Vietnam, but his injury forced him to retire from the job he loved. He says it was difficult to transition to a civilian mindset once he returned home after 17 years of serving.
“I really miss it, really I had a lot of and dreams about it, thinking about it all the time. I still do,” he says.
He knows what it’s like to get back on his feet, and he didn’t have to stand alone.
Martinez says, “They help the veterans a lot here. There are a lot of veterans who don’t know, or need help. If I talk to somebody I will ask them are you a veteran? Do you know about the veterans here? You oughta go, sign up.”
The former cook gives back in the best way he knows how. H
“I bring them stuff I make some salsa, the other day I brought some with pineapple they gave me some pineapple here and so I was making some,” says Martinez.
As for Vanderwalle, she knows her father would be proud of all she does for veterans.
“It also shows that we have many veterans out there that we want to say thank you for such a great job, thank you for serving our country and we’re here for you,” she says.
The center is not Federally or State funded. All the money is raised to run the center, and it always accepts donations.
For more information on how you can donate you can visit the QC Veterans Outreach Center website.