Helping our heroes: El Campo volunteers lend a hand to local veterans

EL CAMPO, Texas (KTRK) -- Veterans in El Campo and Wharton get a big boost from a couple organizations from trips to the hospital to the outdoors.

Clayton Ryan spends a lot of his time behind the wheel. The El Campo man routinely travels 150 miles a day to Houston.

But he's not driving for work.

"When you look back there, and it's happened to me once, and only once, but I looked back there and I didn't see old people," Ryan recalled. "I saw soldiers."

Ryan manages Everyday Heroes Incorporated. A service that helps vets make about 12,000 VA appointments a year.

"Anything so they can live at home and stay at home so they don't have to go into assisted living is our main goal," Ryan said.

The organization does more than give free rides. They also provide vets with wheelchairs, scooters and lift chairs.

SEE ALSO: Wharton man steps up to help those in his city struggling with pandemic

Despite the pandemic, the service that's run for nearly 15 years hasn't slow down. Vets social distance on the bus and wear masks, but Ryan said these elderly heroes still need to make appointments.

"This is just a simple way to give back and show our appreciation," Ryan said.

There's another organization in El Campo making a difference for vets. Instead of taking military members to appointments, Billy Hodges takes vets from the hospital to the outdoors.

"We take them fishing," Hodges explained. "We take them hunting all over the United States."

For nearly 20 years, Patriots and Heroes Outdoors has given hundreds of wounded warriors an escape from their treatment.

"All they need to do is bring warm clothes and we take care of the rest," Hodges said.

But the pandemic has taken its toll. The organization keeps having to cancel its trips.

"It's completely put a stop to us," Hodges explained.

"One good thing is we're not spending any money. One bad thing is we're not raising any money."

Hodges says he can't wait to take vets for an outdoor escape soon. Whether it's guiding military members to hunt, or with a trip to the VA, El Campo and Wharton organizations provide ways to honor our heroes year round.

"I had to start somewhere," Hodges said. "It might as well be El Campo."

"It's an honor for me to be able to do this, and to live in a community that gives back," Ryan said.

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