Serving those who served us
Custer County full of people, entities helping veterans
Published: Thursday, November 7th, 2013
Whether it’s buying a veteran a meal at a restaurant or creating a nonprofit organization that allows injured war veterans a free vacation in the Black Hills, Custer County is no stranger to paying thanks to those who served the United States. Custer County and serving veterans go hand in hand.
From the Hermosa and Custer American Legions to the Custer VFW and VFWâï¿½ï¿½Auxillary, Custer has many heroes who have served and fought for the freedoms we enjoy today. To honor those heroes, Custer County has a large number of selfless individuals, businesses and clubs that are ready to sacrifice a meal, an entrance fee or some of their time for those who have sacrificed so much more.
Kat Craig is one of those people. Craig, whose dad and brother were both in the military, is part of the local VFWâï¿½ï¿½Auxillary that helps with various projects for veterans, including at the Michael J. Fitzmaurice South Dakota State Veterans Home in Hot Springs.
“It makes me feel good to do something for someone who risked their life for our country,”âï¿½ï¿½she said. “I like helping out whenever Iâï¿½ï¿½get the chance. They are really happy that people are remembering them.”
Carrie Alm, who has been involved with the auxiliary since 1983, had a father who was a Bronze Star recipient in the Korean War. Alm said the auxiliary has 150 members who do a variety of projects to help veterans.
On a monthly basis, the auxiliary visits the state veterans home and the Veterans Administration hospital, also in Hot Springs, and runs Bingo games. They also serve meals at the veterans home once a month December through May, and also make sack lunches for the residents up to three times a month.
Auxiliary members also help with Bingo at Custer Regional Senior Care once a month and distribute Christmas gifts to veterans and their spouses at Custer Regional Senior Care, Wedgwood Regional Senior Care and Rose Haven. The group provides rides to veterans with medical appointments in other towns and contributes postage and various products to troops overseas.
Alm said, “We owe every veteran and all military serving a huge debt every day. We have no comprehension how lucky we are. Thank God for veterans.”
Tony Gonsor, an active member of Custer’s VFWâï¿½ï¿½post, said he realized upon moving from Aberdeen to Custer a handful of years ago just how patriotic Custer is.
“My hometown of 30,000 people never had a Veterans Day program like the high school puts on here,”âï¿½ï¿½he said.âï¿½ï¿½“It’s second to none.”
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