The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Tornado: Mike Pound

August 17, 2011

Mike Pound: Veterans bearing gifts coming to Joplin

JOPLIN, Mo. — Robert Marrone told me that a planned trip to Joplin by a group of veterans from California University of Pennsylvania is just another way for them to give back to the community.

I guess I can see that, but it seems to me that the veterans who will make the road trip to Joplin and back to Pennsylvania have already given more than enough back to the community.

The veterans, all students at California University, mostly served in the Iraq or Afghanistan war efforts. The group will leave the university on Aug. 24 and plans to arrive at the American Legion Post 13 building, Fourth Street and Schifferdecker Avenue, on Aug. 26. Along the way, the veterans have stops scheduled at 11 other American Legion posts in five states. At each Legion post, the veterans will pick up donations of cash and supplies to be delivered to Joplin to be given to victims of the May 22 tornado.

Robert is the president of the California University veterans club. He said he was sitting in the veterans affairs office on campus trying to come up with another service project for the club when “Joplin popped up on the TV.”

Robert said he knew right away that the veterans club had to get involved.

“We saw how Joplin still needed help and figured it was just one more way we could give back to the community that gave us so much while we were overseas,” he said.

That’s right. Men and women who basically put their lives on the line for the rest of us still want to do something for the rest of us.

How strong is that?

The club operates with assistance from the school’s Veterans Affairs Office. Robert Prah is the director of the office. He said he likes to think of his office as a “one-stop shop” for veterans on campus. Prah, an Iraq War veteran, said that other than a bit of logistical support, the club put the details for the Joplin trip together on its own. He said the idea of veterans helping other veterans and their communities is not unique to the university campus.

“I think you’ll find that the trend is not only do they give back (via military service) but to continue to give back,” Prah said.

Howard Spiva is the commander of Joplin American Legion Post 13. I wrote about the local Legion post earlier this summer after it received a huge truckload of donated items from the Legion post in Carmel, N.Y. The donated items, Howard said, were to be given to veterans affected by the May 22 tornado.

In the column, I mentioned that as far as anyone knew, the folks with Carmel American Legion Post 1080 had no connection with anyone in the Joplin area. I also mentioned that Howard wasn’t really too surprised by that fact.

“They want to make sure these supplies go to veterans who were victims of the tornado and need some help,” Howard said.

Howard said the idea was, and continues to be, to help veterans still in need, and also to help members of the community at large who suffered losses from the storm. To that end, Howard wanted me to remind area veterans and others who lost items in the storm to call any of the following telephone numbers for assistance: 417-624-4961, 417-483-3099 or 417-781-8107.

According to the California University of Pennsylvania veterans club’s schedule, the group should arrive in Joplin early on the afternoon of Aug. 26. I told both Robert Prah and Robert Marrone that I would be there when the group arrives.

I figure I owe them at least that much.

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Tornado: Mike Pound