LITTLE RIVER, SC (WBTW) — Ron Wilson has been the director of the Veterans Welcome Home & Resource Center in Little River since 2017, but before that he served in the United States Army and was sent to Vietnam.
Ron joined the US Army in January 1970 and was sent to Vietnam in 1971 where he worked in the Force Development office.
“we were responsible for knowing where everybody was in south east asia and then on christmas eve day of 1971, we got the order from the president. President nixon said pack it up boys we’re leaving”
He was honorably discharged from the US Army as a Sergeant E-5 in 1972.
Wilson said because of his background serving in the army and Vietnam War, he can relate to the veterans who come in and help them as much as he can.
“When I got home, the first week of February and my dad took me out to Hal’s bar for a beer at the counter having a beer and this fellow a couple of stools down says oh you got a nice tan, did you just get back from Florida and I said no I got back from Vietnam and he picked up his beer and walked away and that’s kind of what was happening back then,” Wilson said.
Wilson added that “some of the people that came back, it was a lot worse so when we run into a Vietnam veteran here today we always say welcome home because we didn’t get that welcome home when we came back.”
The Veterans Welcome Home & Resource Center located in South Little River operates as a non-profit organization. Everyone who works there, including Ron, works as volunteers.
“All the funds that we raise go to helping veterans and it’s our position out of all the money that we raise, 96.6% of the money goes to helping veterans, the rest of it goes to administrative costs,” Wilson said.
Each year, they help over 750 veterans with job placement, housing, VA claims, financial assistance, education, healthcare, and more.
“We want to make sure that the Veteran can sustain himself or herself because we don’t want them coming back here every month, it doesn’t work that way. Our policy is you can come back once a year so we want to get them on the right track and if they need employment we got a ready list so we do whatever we can,” Wilson said.
Wilson said when he came back from Vietnam, he then went on to become a police officer in Michigan.
“When I got back from Vietnam I went into the Dearborn police department in Dearborn Michigan to renew my driver’s license and the chief happened to be in the lobby and said did you get out of the service and I said ya and he said do you got a job and I said well you start right here Monday at 9 o’clock,” Wilson said.
He would then go on working for the Dearborn Police Department for 23 years. While there, he also completed his undergraduate degree in criminal justice, a master’s degree from the University of Detroit, and a law degree from Michigan State University.
Now, Ron is serving as the Director of the Veterans Welcome Home & Resource Center and is giving back every day to the thousands of veterans in this area.
“Got a lot of veterans down here, more than you could begin to imagine so we try to let all the veterans know that here we are and if we can help you, fine but if you can help us, that’s even better because we’re all volunteers here,” Wilson said.
For more information about the Veterans Welcome Home & Resource Center, go to their website here.