For Louisville native William “Bill” Laird, helping veterans is a labor of love. The former Marine (1970-74) and current Commander of the American Legion in Shepherdsville knows how difficult it is to readjust to civilian life after service in the military.
“The military does a good job of knocking the civilian out of you, and the transition back is so hard, especially for those suffering from PTSD,” Bill says. “Active Heroes gives veterans a place to come for support and programs that help that transition.”
Bill began volunteering with Active Heroes, a charity that works with U.S. military service members, veterans, and their families to prevent crisis and suicide, from its beginning nearly 13 years ago. He helps keep things running at the Active Heroes Retreat center in Shepherdsville, where veterans and families can gather to find respite and connection. It’s rewarding to have been a part of seeing the charity grow over time, he says.
“It takes a lot of money, volunteers and hard work, but when you see a veteran and their family enjoying one of the cabins on the property or connecting at one of the events, it’s more than worth it,” Bill says.
What do you do as a volunteer at Active Heroes?
Active Heroes Retreat is on 150 acres in Shepherdsville, so there’s always lots to be done on the grounds like grass cutting, weedeating and caretaking of the facilities. I also help with fundraising activities. Like most charities, we rely on donations and community support to fund the programs and services we offer veterans and their families. I’m always available to help wherever and whenever they need me.
What has volunteering done for you? How has it enhanced your life?
Volunteering at Active Heroes has given me the chance to really help veterans and their families. I think that if we can help one veteran every day and help them get back into civilian life, that’s my reward. The programs and activities at Active Heroes are free for veterans and their families. It brings me the biggest joy knowing that I can do something to change a vet’s life.
What advice would you give other seniors interested in volunteering?
The great thing in life isn’t money. It’s the satisfaction of knowing you’ve made a difference in someone else’s life for the better. Retirees have a lot of knowledge that other people can use. You don’t have to go all the time, just volunteer for a day or a few hours. Just try it out. Use your skills and experience to help people out.
By Kym Voorhees Raque | Photos by Erika Doll
P.S. See what this volunteer is doing to help children.