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Veterans still serve proudly

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Veterans have been such an important part of the military's past, but they are still a vital part of the Air Force today at Patrick Air Force Base and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Nearly 100 military veterans volunteer their time and services daily through Project Emeritus and the American Red Cross. These veterans are often filling mission essential positions, such as Col. (ret.) George E. Gogel who has volunteered more than 7,000 hours with the 45th Security Forces Squadron in the pass and registration office. Mr. Gogel is in charge of issuing the vehicle decals for the majority of the base populace.

"When our volunteers miss a day things can go downhill fast," said Senior Airman Denise Chinchilla, 45th Medical Support Squadron pharmacy journeyman, of the veterans who volunteer in the Satellite Pharmacy. "We couldn't accomplish our mission without them. They help us give out about 2,000 prescriptions a day. They are a huge part of our team."

Active duty personnel see and acknowledge the benefits of having the volunteers helping out.

"Our Air Force vision statement is 'Lasting Heritage...Limitless Horizons,' said Col. Florence Valley, 45th Medical Group commander. "Our veterans have made us the most powerful nation in the world. Their sacrifices have made for a better today and the capability for a better tomorrow."

Not only are these veteran volunteers helping to complete duties, they are also educating the younger troops.

"Because they're military veterans we learn a lot from them since they have been through numerous wars," said Staff Sgt. Corissa Pruett, 45th Security Forces Squadron NCOIC pass and registration. "They provide lots of education and history."

These retirees who volunteer have a significant impact on mission accomplishment and the entire base community in general.

"They fill the void in mission -critical positions as our troops deploy and keep our payroll dollars down." said Col. Mark Bontrager, 45th Mission Support Group commander.

One may ask why these veterans feel it is so important to volunteer their time on base. Senior Master Sgt (ret.) Joe Reeves may have best answered the question.

"The military has been good to me; this is my chance to give back," he said. "It's a great place to volunteer where I feel like part of the team. I work with a lot of great troops who help to keep me young."