COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A Midlands family wants to make it easier for local veterans to get the medical help they need. The husband and wife duo are lending a helping hand with life 'After the Uniform.'
That's also the name of their new Facebook page where local veterans can reach out for confidential help with things like filing insurance claims. This, after they say they struggled to get the medical help they needed because of what can be a complicated process.
"I know what they're going through. I know, I've been there. I've done it," Local veteran, Shane Robertson, said.
After serving in the Air Force, Shane chose to join the National Guard because of his grandfather and father.
"Granddad and my dad was in the Saluda National Guard unit. So, I said, 'well, I'll try that,'" Shane said.
He was deployed to Iraq for 18 months as part of a Route-Clearance Unit.
"We looked for bombs. That's what we did, tried to find them. So, we got blowed up a lot," Shane said.
After surviving several explosions, he says as soon as he got home he noticed a change.
"I stay here. This is my comfort zone. I don't like being around crowds. Fireworks shows is out the question," Shane said. "Well, it changed my family's life. We used to enjoy having gatherings here and doing cookouts and barbeques and I just don't do it anymore."
It wasn't easy asking for help but getting medical attention was more complicated than Shane expected.
"He just couldn't get the benefits that he needed," Shane's wife, Kathy said. She worked in healthcare for the last 20 years and offered to help.
"I know, sort of, what needs to go with what and what questions you need to ask," Kathy said.
In November she decided to leave her job, not just to help Shane but any veteran needing help with the insurance process through their After the Uniform Facebook page.
"It's a place where they can go and if they have questions they can come on there and ask me and I'll message them private. I've had a lot of people thank me and a lot of people very appreciative of it, but I don't do it for that. I do it for them and I tell them that," Kathy said.
She's also using her free time to create wreaths for vets out of old military uniforms.
"I love to see their expression when you take a wreath to them and you d rop it off and they have no idea. It's just a good feeling," Kathy said.
It's the couple's way of giving back to those struggling with life After the Uniform.
"Don't give up. Do not give up fighting," Shane said.
Kathy donates the wreaths to local vets all over the U.S., but she is looking for more uniforms from all military branches to keep up with the demand. If you'd like to help, just visit the After the Uniform Facebook page.