Veteran’s Spotlight: Featured Veteran — Lee Martin

As a Green Beret combat medic during the Vietnam War, Lee Martin saw the full spectrum of human suffering ranging from saving lives on the battlefield to delivering babies during sick call at his Special Forces A Camp.

That caring spirit and dedication to those he cared for as a combat medic, whether it was a fellow, wounded Green Beret or a Montagnard tribesman’s ill wife or grandfather, is alive and well today in Lee as the executive director of the recently formed American Veterans’ Assistance Group – the program designed to work with the more than 600 veterans living within the 40 Veteran Affordable Housing Program communities throughout the five western states.

“I don’t look at this as a job,” said Lee, who served in various positions of leadership for the Boy Scouts of America over 35 years, “I look at this opportunity as a chance to serve fellow veterans, fellow Americans who have served their country with honor and integrity.”

As the executive director, Lee, who received a Silver Star, Bronze Star and Purple Heart during his tour of duty in Vietnam, is forming American Veterans’ Assistant Groups (AVAG) in each of the 40 Santiago communities, one community at a time.

“The mission is simple, we’re bringing together the veterans and their wives and significant others for the camaraderie enjoyed by veterans being around other veterans with the fundamental desire to help other veterans,” Lee said.

“Lee brings a can-do spirit to the AVAG mission,” said fellow Vietnam War Green Beret and Purple Heart recipient Jim Duffy, who works with Lee and serves on the AVAG Board of Directors. “Lee is doing this the old-fashioned way, going to one community at a time, meeting the veterans, listening to them and working with them,” Duffy said.

Lee began his campaign at the two Santiago communities in Orange, before going to Sequoia Plaza Mobile Home Park, Diamond Bar Estates in Walnut and Casitas La Verne Mobile Home Estates.

Besides that, Lee is networking with other veteran organizations and establishing working relationships within the VA, in order to find key staff personnel who can assist AVAG veterans in obtaining their VA benefits or in updating their VA information packets.

In addition, one of the most exciting aspects of Lee’s job has been acquiring household goods, home repair materials and free furniture that are available to veterans in the AVAG program.

“Veterans have always helped fellow veterans,” Lee said. Through the AVAG program it will give veterans “an opportunity to help themselves, their families and their fellow veterans. In recent weeks, fellow veterans have helped veterans pick up free furniture as well as helping other veterans with home repairs and refurbishing programs that are available at no costs to them.”

For example, Army veteran John Finneran, a resident at Sequoia Plaza Mobile Home Park, needed a motorized lift reclining chair. While working with another nonprofit called Patriots and Paws, Lee learned that organization had such a chair.

He and a volunteer picked it up from Linda Lee in LaVerne, took it to Finneran’s San Bernardino manufactured home and delivered it. When they arrived, Lee found that a new transformer was needed for it. Lee obtained a new transformer, installed it for Finneran and watched the Army veteran successfully use it.

Later that day, at the first “Free Furniture For Veterans” give away, Navy veterans, father and son, Mike and Robert Goens selected and moved several pieces of free furniture to their manufactured home in Sequoia.

“This is outstanding,” Mike Goens said after taking a sofa and several other items to his manufactured home. “I needed some new furniture. Receiving free furniture is an unexpected benefit that I wouldn’t have were it not for Lee and this program.”

AVAG is NOT a government organization. It is a private non-profit 501 C-3 formed to assist veterans and, as Lee would say, “It’s to help us make a difference for fellow veterans.”

Categories AVAG News | Tags: | Posted on January 3, 2015

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