SARASOTA, Florida. – At 20, Douglas Kremer enlisted in the US Army. He served in the 101st Airborne Division as a paratrooper during the Vietnam War.
“I worked search and destroy in the Vietnam War and the place that scared us the most was going to A Shau Valley and I say A Shau Valley is a hell on earth and I tell people that I’ve been in hell on earth and I don’t want to go there when I die,” he said.
He would get a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star. He fought at Hamburger Hill in 1969 and returned home with injuries – some that wouldn’t show up until years later.
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Douglas Kremer served in the army in Vietnam. He now enjoys Sarasota County Veterans Services
“We didn’t know about Agent Orange when we were there. We were walking through completely black areas. Agent Orange kills every bit of vegetation on Earth. We sat in those areas and ate our C rations. and drank our I didn’t know anything about the residue of that until I got back from Vietnam,” Kremer said.
Now totally disabled, Kremer uses Sarasota County Veterans Services to help him navigate the VA system and what can seem like endless paperwork.
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“Not every veteran I talk to realizes that our county here has someone they can turn to for help,” he said.
The number of veterans coming through their doors has slowed, in part due to COCID-19, but the office is open and ready to help all veterans.
“That’s our goal is to help others get what they need from the VA. You have served our country. We must serve you,” Aretha Gipson said.
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From VA health care to VA home loan information, Aretha Gipson works to help veterans in many ways. She served 20 years in the United States Navy and retired as a chief petty officer. She now works to help those who have served our country in life after service.
“All of us in the building are disabled veterans ourselves. For us, I think it’s a bit personal. Someone had to help us and it’s our pleasure to help someone else “, she said.
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All three offices – Sarasota, Venice and North Port – operate by appointment only. The nine-member Veterans Services team is committed to providing ongoing quality service to veterans and their family members.
Office hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday. Contact the Sarasota office at 941-861-2899; Venice at 861-3047; North Port 429-7214 or email [email protected]