Danny Eaton served in the Navy for three and a half years, spending most of his time overseas aboard an aircraft carrier out of Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam.
Now he and his wife, Terry, are serving fellow Wahkiakum County veterans in Cathlamet’s Veteran’s Assistance Center on Thursdays, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. behind the WSU Extension office in the River Street building.
Danny, Terry, and Mike Gregory came together two years ago with the idea of opening an office where local veterans could get help finding forms, locating services, and accessing resources to help meet their basic needs. Mike passed away in 2011, which “kinda took the wind out of our sails,” but the Eatons continued their work.
The Eatons both trained to become certified as VFW service officers and volunteered in Longview three days a week for several months in order to gain experience.They opened the center in Cathlamet last March and now volunteer their time to help veterans navigate the federal bureaucracy that often stands between them and the services to which they are entitled.
So far, the pair has provided assistance to approximately 30 veterans in the tight space they share with the Wahkiakum County Noxious Weed Board.
“We have a lot of people who need information about their service,” Danny said.
Many of those currently being served are older, retired veterans, but as conflicts overseas wind down and deployments end, the Eatons anticipate that they will start seeing younger clients.
“With all that stress,” Danny explained, “nobody comes out unaffected.”
“PTSD and traumatic brain injury are a huge deal right now,” Terry added.
As part of their service, the Eatons will be participating in this year’s “stand-down” taking place in Longview on October 22.The annual veterans’ aid event includes immediate assistance in the form of hot meals, haircuts, clothing, sleeping bags and other assistance.