Friday, November 02, 2012

TOP STORY >> Commander thanks chamber

Leader staff writer

Col. Archie Frye, commander of the 22nd Air Force Reserve Detachment 1, thanked the Sherwood Chamber of Commerce at its monthly luncheon on Thursday for hosting a golf tournament to benefit veterans.

Proceeds from the first “A.L.B.A.T.R.O.S.S. Team with a Vet” golf tournament, which was held Thursday afternoon, will go into a special fund designed to offset the cost of veterans seeking medical treatment and services. Arkansas Lending Basic Assistance To Respect Our Service members Sacrifices sponsored the event, and the plan is for it to be an annual fundraiser.

Frye shared the story of an 80-year-old veteran who needed that kind of help and asked for it at the John L. McClellan Memorial Veterans Hospital in Little Rock.

“He approached me…He said ‘Hey sir, I’m not a panhandler. That’s my truck. That’s my wife and I need $10 to get to Jonesboro.’ I was like ‘OK.’ So, I reached in my pocket, and I gave him more than $10.

“He goes ‘No, I don’t want a handout. I need a loan. I deal in cash, and I was at the VA outpatient clinic, and I had to come back for an extra day and needed a hotel room and I simply ran out of money.”’

Frye said he had a friend with him at the time. His friend also offered the veteran some cash. But the veteran wouldn’t take it.

Frye said the veteran told him, “I don’t need money. I need to get home to my money.”

Frye said after that he asked Douglas Bowers, chief of voluntary service with the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System, if there was a fund to help veterans like the one he had spoken with.

Bowers told him there was, but it only contained $4,000 each year.

Frye said the goal he and Bowers have set is to raise that fund to $10,000.

That is why he and many others organized the tournament.

“There are people that can’t see because of their service. I’m able to swing a golf club when a lot of people can’t do that because of their service. I personally got to fly med evacs out of combat zones, most important mission you could ever do. Believe it or not, we saved about 99 percent of the people that were hurt on our airplanes. We have medical teams who do miracle surgeries. You’d have to go to UAMS to get the same kind of care,” Frye said.

He continued, “The bottom line is that’s somebody’s son or daughter. That’s somebody from Arkansas, and we’re going to help them.”
Frye said they’ve learned Friday afternoon is a better time for the tournament. He said he and the other organizers are working with some national companies who may sponsor a tournament next year.

Bowers said, ‘When (Frye) decides to something and gets behind something, he gives 100 percent.”

He explained that he is in charge of how the money is spent that comes to the veterans healthcare system.

“One-hundred percent of what I receive goes 100 percent back to our veterans,” Bowers said.

He continued, “Anything from a hotel room because they can’t afford one when they’re getting care, and they don’t have enough money for a room, to a hot meal, to clothing. Anything you can think of, they need. Not everybody is as well off as you and me. These veterans have sacrificed everything so that we can walk around, play golf and have a good luncheon together and be able to do the things that we do here in the greatest country in the world.

Bowers said, “Please keep this, make it grow. Let’s get this to where we have a golf tournament in all corners of this state, and we get it up to $100,000, and we can just take care of everybody that walks through our doors.”