MANNING, SC (WLTX)- "I would be gone sometimes for a two year stretch, and it was very hard on my family, because we didn't know if we'd be coming home or not."
Gerald Brown recalls the difficulties he faces in his almost two decades spent in the U.S. Air Force.
His service began in 1956 at the start of the Vietnam War, a time when he says servicemen and women were often forgotten.
"We were under appreciated at the time. I came back several times wearing my uniform and would walk in and no one said anything. nothing. There was just no thank you at all."
Brown has been living in Manning since he retired in 1977.
He says many other veterans who live in Clarendon County have no way to get to their medical appointments at the VA, over an hour away. But now, they do.
Becky Bryant with Vietnam Veterans of America, along with the Disabled Veterans Association and the county, are now offering veterans free transportation to their appointments at the VA in Columbia and Charleston.
"How little is it to give back to a veteran whose given his life for you?" says Bryant. "Everything we do they appreciate so much. It just warms your heart to feel appreciated, no matter who you are."
The donated van will be driven by volunteers and will cost the veterans nothing. Brown says this is a great step in honoring those veterans, who were at one time forgotten.
"It goes a big long way. At our last military parade here in Manning on December 7th people were beginning to thank us for being at the places we were at during these war times. And it made me feel real great. It was one of the first times I've ever been thanked for being gone."
Perhaps the first time, but now certainly not the last. For more information or to volunteer call 803-435-2527 or 803-460-4944.