By Paul Gable
Local veteran James Vaught (Lt. Gen. USA – retired) has a vision for using some of the land on the former Myrtle Beach Air Force Base to help disabled veterans.
Certified 100 percent disabled himself, due to injuries and PTSD resulting from the Vietnam War, Vaught has a special place in his heart for those veterans suffering loss of limbs, traumatic brain injuries and PTSD from the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“These veterans need our help,” Vaught said. “Many of them need a way to get back into the mainstream of our society. Even though many have some permanent type of disability, they want to be able to work and find a way to live a normal life.”
Vaught’s vision is the construction of a housing project for disabled veterans that would provide a location to be used while these veterans are learning new skills to help them re-enter the job market. The proposed title is the Horry County/Grand Strand Severely Wounded Warrior and All Veteran Support Center.
To facilitate the project, Vaught has launched the All Veteran Association (AVA), a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization to raise funds and support the project as it goes forward.
“Today’s media affirms that most of the existing veterans’ organizations are not adequately adjusting their programs to meet the needs of today’s veterans,” Vaught said. “They especially lack in being able to help those with disadvantageous and complex health problems.”
The AVA currently has an office at 1144 Shine Avenue, Myrtle Beach. It is located next to the Veterans Café on the former air force base property.
Vaught and his organization have already had an impact on veteran services in the local area. On November 24, 2011, he met with the co-directors of the Charleston VA Center to discuss better support for the VA Clinic in Myrtle Beach. Since that meeting, one additional doctor, two additional RN’s, three additional LPN’s and two additional maintenance personnel have been added to the clinic staff.
The bigger project, providing homes for 400 severely wounded veterans, is moving forward in the planning stages. The overall concept is to provide quad style, handicap friendly quarters for married and single wounded warriors who come to the area to “learn to earn.” These veterans will have the VA Clinic available to help with their medical conditions and will attend one of the local educational institutions, Coastal Carolina University, Horry Georgetown Technical College or several other institutions in the Pee Dee, to learn new skills.
The project is designed to provide 50 percent or higher disabled veterans with meaningful activity outside the hospital environment that will improve their wellness and offer a formal means of transition back to the civilian work force, according to Vaught.
“We believe the road to recovery for injured service members is long and arduous,” Vaught said. “Our program will offer great opportunities to service members on medical hold and qualified veterans to build their resumes, explore employment opportunities and develop job skills.”
The AVA is soliciting the help of all veterans in the area and throughout the United States to become involved with the organization and the Wounded Warrior Project.
For more information on how you can help with the Wounded Warrior Project and become a member of the All Veterans Association, you may contact Gen. Vaught at 843-712-1700 or e-mail at email@example.com.