Houston Fruge of Vinton spends a lot of his time these days helping veterans and their families get the benefits they are due. He's an unpaid volunteer with the Disabled American Veterans.
"I feel like it's kind of a payback. When I went into the military, I didn't go to Vietnam. I've got some good friends that got drafted and came back in body bags. I feel like this is part of my payback."
Fruge is a Vietnam era veteran, having served in the Army from 1962 to 1965. He's a certified service officer with DAV chapter 17 in Lake Charles.
"We help active duty veterans, family members, fill out VA forms. Some of them are pretty complicated. W e help them fill them out, send them in. Stay with them until they can get benefits."
Fruge says many vets and family members don't realize the help that's available until it's too late.
"It's kind of heartbreaking when you work to try to help a couple of veterans in their late 80s or early 90s. Two of them in particular that I helped. They both died before they got the first check. We need the men and women to come to us and let us help them."
Fruge says even pays for DAV training himself.
The D-A-V office is located at 5516 Hwy. 90 E. in Lake Charles. They help veterans and their families with V-A claims on the first and third Thursdays of the Month. They are also available on the second Thursday of the month at the Sulphur Municipal Business Center at 110 N. Huntington (old City Hall). For more information, call 337-497-0805.