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'TOM SAT ON THAT DECK EVERY NIGHT ...'

VFW Post builds wheelchair-friendly deck for Vietnam veteran.

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“I was a medic in Vietnam, and I have a lot of guilt over the guys who never made it home,” said VFW Post 4952 Quartermaster Cliff Nelson. “I was one of the lucky ones, so I feel like giving back is the least I can do.”

While manning a VFW booth at a local fair in Berrien Springs, Mich., Nelson met a fellow Vietnam veteran, Tom Driver.

“Driver was in an electric wheelchair. He came over to get some information and ended up becoming a VFW member right then and there,” said Nelson.

Driver suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and several other health problems related to his service in Vietnam. As a result of these issues, Driver went to dialysis treatments three times a week.

“The guys heard Tom was having trouble getting in and out of his home. He needed a deck and wheelchair ramp, so we all put our heads together,” said Nelson.

Bill Robinson, VFW Post 4852 Adjutant, called a contractor he knew named Adam Williams. Not only was Williams interested in helping, he offered to provide all the wood and labor—free of charge.

On Veterans Day, Williams, Nelson, Robinson and three other Post members built a new deck and ramp in just five hours.

Driver was thrilled with his newfound freedom.

“Tom sat out on that deck every night,” said Nelson. “He loved being outdoors and talking to his neighbors.”

Tom Driver passed away November 9, 2012. His gracious spirit will be forever remembered by his friends and comrades at Post 4952.

“It’s heartbreaking to lose such a great guy and member. I only hope that we were able to make his final months a little better,” said Nelson.

“Tom sacrificed so much for his country, and he will never be forgotten.”

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