Emory King, an Army specialist who served in Korea, emotionally spoke of a close friend on Friday at Wellington’s Veteran’s Day ceremony in front of village hall.
He said his friend, a fellow veteran, is staying at Hillcrest Apartments and has fallen prey to addiction after years of fighting through physical ailments attributed to his service days.
“He doesn’t want to come stay in the veterans’ home because I get the feeling he’s a user,” he said. “If he comes up to the home he’ll have to take a drug test. He’s paralyzed on one side of his body. He can’t get in and out of a car without help and has multiple fragmentation wounds.”
King is the service officer at Wellington VFW Post 6941, which puts him in charge of organizing help for the large number of veterans in the area who face continued hardships stemming from the sacrifices they’ve made and lack of proper compensation when they returned home.
“I take this friend to the grocery store,” he said. “In another setting I’d be called a benefits representative. I also do a lot of work at the veterans homeless shelter in Lorain. I get together food and bedding to take there all the time.”
The Wellington VFW, American Legion, and AMVETS Post 162 come together twice a year to donate money to shelters, he said.
“We do that the week leading up to Memorial Day and Veterans Day,” he said. “All three organizations in town do a great job with this. It was so cohesive. Little league ball and community events are great, but if you read this country’s founding documents, our first duty is taking care of veterans. They come home with all kind of problems. People in prison are treated with more assurance than veterans. We have to do more to help them.”
Gary Primuth, the newly-appointed commander of the Wellington VFW, served as an Army specialist in the Dominican Republic.
“We have veterans from all wars going back to World War II here with us today,” he said. “It’s always a solemn ceremony because of the buddies that we’ve lost. We remember. It’s a different kind of Army today, a volunteer Army. Some of us were dragged overseas kicking and screaming but we all went. Back then, it was looked at as a duty. You put your time in and got out. There were some really tough times but I wouldn’t trade it for any experience I’ve had in my life.”
Mike Rush works directly under Pirumth at the VFW and served in the Army from 1981 to 1989, including stints in Korea, Panama, and Grenada.
“Wellington always does a good job letting its veterans know they’re not forgotten on both Veterans Day and Memorial Day. One of the things on my mind are all the kids from Wellington who are currently serving. There’s a lot, men and women. We need to keep them in our prayers.”
Gil Cole of the American Legion served as master of ceremonies for the event.
“We normally do this around six in the evening,” he said. “That’s because we all used to be a little younger and had jobs to go to. Now we’re all retired so we do the honor a bit earlier. We’re all happy to be here.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.
Photos by Jonathan Delozier | Wellington Enterprise Gil Cole, Gary Primuth, and Emory King reflect on their service following Wellington’s Veterans Day ceremony.