FirstSpear

Free Tool Boxes For Veterans

We’ve got a lot of veterans in my family. Not only is my father a veteran, but he’s also a retired Air Force maintenance guy. He recently ran across an announcement for “free tool boxes for veterans” and suggested that I share it with my readership. I thought it was a good idea, so here it is?:

REAch program has shipped more than 8,000 toolboxes to Veterans

In 1994, U.S. Army Air Corps WWII Veteran and former POW Clarence Robert “Bud” Shepherd opened a small warehouse in Burlington, North Carolina, to assist 501 (c) (3) non-profit organizations, like schools, churches and daycares.

Shepherd refocused his attention on Post-9/11 combat wounded Veterans in 2012 by creating the Veteran Toolbox Program. He provided them with free toolboxes to assist with their transition into civilian life. Although Post-9/11 Purple Heart Veterans are priority for the program, all Veterans can apply.

“I always wanted to do something for Veterans, and I came up with the toolbox program,” said Shepherd. “We talked to some tool companies, and they were interested in getting involved. We talked to Stanley and Black and Decker about what we wanted to do and they came back with one word – absolutely! APEX tools, Wooster paint brushes, and Johnson & Johnson are also great supporters.”

The REAch Veteran Toolbox Program has shipped more than 8,000 toolboxes to Veterans, which contains about $600 worth of tools.

“This is the most satisfying thing I’ve ever done in my lifetime,” said the 94-year-old.

Shepherd works six days a week, gets up at 5 a.m., and leaves work at 6 p.m. most days. But he’s no stranger to hard work.

He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1943, when he was 18 years old. He served in the 8th Air Force in England as a tail-gunner on a B-17. Enemy forces shot down his plane six months before the end of WWII. Shepherd was captured and sent to a prisoner of war camp near Berth, Germany.

“Once we got settled down, things went along fairly smooth because there was 9,000 of us, all Air Force people,” Shepherd recalled. “About 7,500 Americans and a few Brits. We were liberated by the Russians and I made my way back home.”

“We hear from a lot of these guys and their families,” Shepherd said. “Last week we got an e-mail saying ‘You saved my husband’s life. He hasn’t been out of the house in three months but ever since he got his toolbox he’s been out in the garage or the backyard working on something.’”

REAch operates in Graham, North Carolina, but ships the toolboxes across the country.

“I go to the VA hospital in Durham, North Carolina, for yearly physicals, but my health is excellent,” he said. “These people down there that I deal with at the VA hospital, they are just good people… In my lifetime, I’ve been blessed, and I enjoy every minute of it.

Learn more about the Veteran Toolbox Program at: reainc.org

This article was written by Tim Hudak and published via blogs.va.gov.

Author Tim Hudak joined the VA in December 2013 and is on the Veterans Experience Office team. Tim, a Chicago-land native enlisted in the Marine Corps straight out of high school. As an intelligence analyst he deployed to Al Anbar province, Iraq with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 363 in 2006 and 2008. After the Marine Corps, Tim used the GI Bill to earn a degree in Intelligence Studies from Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pa., and co-founded the university’s first student Veteran organization. Tim is active in many Veteran organizations.

3 Responses to “Free Tool Boxes For Veterans”

  1. Amer-Rican says:

    Kudos to Mr. Shepherd and REACH!

    It’s great to see Americans helping our Veterans, and it’s even more meaningful when Veterans can offer their aid. Another example of American exceptionalism.

  2. Matt in Oklahoma says:

    Going to the VA was a good experience!?! WOW That’s certainly not my experience.
    I only had 7 years of hearing loss documentation from Army Drs to be called unworthy and a liar by the VA. I’d rather die than go back so that I have what’s left of my pride. I’m using the hearing aid from my recently passed Father in Law so I’m not an embarrassment to my kids and grandkids when I say “what?”. Yup hand me downs from a dead man. Thanks for nothing VA.

    I’m glad to see Vets helping each other. It’s the only way we can make it. At 94 this is more than impressive.

  3. FRANK SCALERA says:

    I started to apply for tool box but my computer skills failed me and I cannot get back to where I left off. I am a Purple Heart vet( I was wounded in Germany in 1944). I was sent to a Army Hospital in England where great Surgeons tried new procedures on my fractured ankle. Skin-grafting was used to cover a bad wound on my ankle that prevented me from walking with a limp.
    If some tool boxes are still available I would like to re-apply. Can some-one
    help me? Frank T. Scalera. 908-350-8090. 0r e-mail at listed Mail.