Military veterans sometimes find it frustrating to go through the federal government for emergency needs such as clothing, food and transportation, so in the suburbs, some of them rely on help from the Chaplain's Fund at the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Center (commonly known as the VA Hospital) in North Chicago.
To help replenish the fund, a local veteran is organizing a fundraiser this weekend in Lake Geneva, Wis.
Longtime Antioch resident and Vietnam veteran Terrill "Joker" Banser set up the fundraiser because he said the small things the fund provides can sometimes mean the world to struggling vets.
"You don't know what it means to them. They cry sometimes," said Banser, who now lives in Wisconsin and regularly contributes to the fund through his Vietnam Veterans Motorcycle Club.
The fundraiser will be held from 2 p.m. until closing time on Saturday, Aug. 25 at Holly's Como Inn Bar & Grill, N3461 Highway H, in Lake Geneva, Wis. For a $20 entrance fee, people can enjoy free beer and hot dogs all night.
The health center's fund is managed by Father William "Bill" Vanderheyden.
Banser, who struggled with personal problems following his service in Vietnam, said postwar life is difficult and he wants to help others going through it, especially the young men and women just back from Iraq and Afghanistan.
"These young vets, they come up to us and thank us all the time. I say, 'Thank me?' Thank you,'" Banser said, repeating the veterans vow to never again allow one generation of veterans to turn their back on another.
"I've lived through this," Banser said, "so I've got to do this."
To donate, checks can be made payable to the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Center, and write "Chaplain Services" in the memo portion of the check. The mailing address is Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Center, Bldg 135, Room 170, 3001 Green Bay Road, North Chicago, IL, 60064.