Inspirational People Stepping Up in Their Communities

american flag being held by a man's silhouette

There are a lot of great charities and assistance programs in the country, and those that support veterans and service members are close to the hearts of many. In recognition of what our veterans have provided for us, finding a way to step up and give back is a popular activity.

As participants of programs designed to help vets, these few highlighted individuals have made an impact in their communities, encouraging others to do the same. Read their stories for inspiration, then find out how you can help veterans, too.

Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 223 – Santa Rosa, California

VVA Chapter 223 is also dedicated to community outreach. Its members are very active in the veteran community in Sonoma County. They work to provide volunteer hours and funding for causes that support veterans.

Led by President Ed Marczak, VVA Chapter 223 regularly sets up a table at a weekly farmer’s market throughout the summer. This gives them a place from which they can share information about important subjects like Agent Orange and PTSD with veterans and their families.

Courtney Laabs and Brooke Rinehart

The final dream of Navy veteran Charles Rushing was to return to Pearl Harbor, where he was stationed in the 1970s. Rushing had been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer before the trip.


Rushing volunteered to serve in the US Navy at the age of 17. First stationed at Pearl Harbor, he guarded aircraft carriers. During his career, he assisted the downed Apollo 11 space capsule, served on the USS Carpenter, and served in special ops before being deployed to Vietnam.

The decorated Navy veteran achieved his dream to return to Pearl Harbor with the help of Courtney Laabs and Brooke Rinehart. The two women, inspired by the quote: “Don’t count the days, make the days count,” competed in an Ironman competition to raise $50,000, which went toward fulfilling 30 dreams for vets!

Carl Meyer

Carl Meyer has been raising money for veterans for a long time, with his ninth annual 100 Holes for Our Heroes fundraiser taking place in June 2016. Meyer’s golf marathon events have raised half a million dollars.

His efforts have helped military members, spouses, and veterans find meaningful work, with individualized career coaching services that include learning effective job search, networking and interviewing techniques, assistance with resumes, and transitioning into civilian employment with new terminology and techniques. He’s done an excellent job aiding an effort to connect veterans with employers eager to hire great, hardworking folks.

John Wakeley and Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 862 – Pennsylvania

This chapter is based out of Southwestern Pennsylvania, and has created a unique Honor Wagon. This vehicle brings a new level of dignity to service members who were killed in action and are returned to home soil.

John Wakeley, a member who works in airport operations, wanted to address the issue of caskets being transferred via baggage carts. Wakeley and other members of VVA Chapter 862 worked to secure a cart that was specifically for transporting caskets with dignity. They designed and created the Honor Wagon in conjunction with several local businesses.

The end result is a distinguished method of transportation for fallen heroes.

How Can You Step Up?

One easy way to help support America’s veterans is to schedule a free donation pickup through Pickup Please. Whether you are making toy donations, clothes donations, or donating household items, it’s easy to set aside the things you no longer use and have them collected by Pickup Please.

You can schedule a pickup from your computer or a mobile device and one of our drivers will pick up the donations within 24 hours for most locations.