Unlike his brother, the draft was kind to Wayne Hayden. Yet, on the day his brother left for induction, he joined him and voluntarily enlisted in the US Army. Forty years later, his service to our country as a Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Weapons Specialist is slowly claiming his health. Like so many other US combat Veterans, his government has turned their back on Wayne in his time of need.

Wayne Hayden was trained at Fort McClellan and served in Korea during Vietnam. For those unfamiliar with this military base, it has a long and guarded history of exposing generations of our military and the surrounding community to some of the most toxic and carcinogenic substances ever created by Monsanto.

That's another story for another time.

I consider myself blessed to know Wayne Hayden, a Vietnam era veteran who exemplifies what it means to be an American. Hayden runs a self-started Veterans Service Organization (VSO), the charitable foundation Saving our Soldiers, Inc. in Colorado.

Hayden is not a complainer; he is an unselfish doer, filling in for an uninterested Department of Defense and an absentee Veterans Administration system when veterans (including active duty) are in a fix. Sometimes you find life, and sometimes that life calls you. Hayden was called to do this work.

As described to me by the man himself, while sitting in a Colorado VSO working on his own VA disability claim, Hayden (a man that impresses me with his ability to miss nothing) overheard a series of phone calls, which caused him distress. Although he was only privy to one side of the conversation, Hayden understood their points.

Call after call---coming in from veterans in need---were met with the same response, "We have no availability, and call back in a couple of weeks." This was unacceptable to Hayden. For him, no soldier should be told "no" when they are in genuine need.

In 2010, Hayden filed his papers with the State of Colorado, established his foundation Saving our Soldiers, Inc. and began partnering with his community and the United Way (211) to provide resources to struggling active duty and non-active duty military veterans and their families.

Life in the military is not a career driven by desire to attain wealth. It is a calling to serve. Pursuing that calling can include a life of financial hardship during and after service. Our military is poorly paid and many of America's combat vets---waiting for unproductive and lengthy VA disability claims processes---live with the very real threat of ending up on the street. Some of these men and women have children to support.

Behind on rent, got a car repair bill you cannot afford, need a place to stay, unable to afford the cost of moving; whatever you need, Wayne will do his level best to find somebody somewhere to help get the job done. For me, he serves as an example for the rest of America, a country that is neglecting the crisis that exists for current and former members of our armed forces.

Wayne Hayden's Colorado based foundation Saving our Soldiers, Inc. can be found here.

Hayden's Veterans Service Organization is a registered Colorado Charitable Foundation. It is the only VSO to be listed nationally with the United Way. However, it is not an IRS recognized 501(c) and as such, no contributions are tax deductible. In my opinion, this should not deter anyone from supporting Wayne's efforts. He isn't in it for the money.

To quote Wayne Hayden, "I know these people. I have helped them move. Some of them just need a little help to get by until they find a job our wait on the VA."

Christmas is an exceptionally difficult time for our active duty and non-active duty military veterans. Please reach out and give Wayne a hand.

If any Americans would like to help Wayne's efforts, look him up on the website provided. If you are fortunate, like me, to get to have a conversation with this American treasure, you will be convinced.

UPDATE: Wayne and his service record have been attacked. Wayne is an honorable veteran and John has provided documentation to that fact in this article.

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