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Veterans helping veterans

Johnson County Veteran Service Officer Ralph Hutto served as part of the classified nuclear testing division with a top-secret crypto clearance during his Marine Corps days. Now Hutto is using his position in the community to further better the lives of local veterans. Submitted photo.

By Meg Dickens
Staff Writer

Recent events have inspired Johnson County Veteran Service Officer Ralph Hutto to think big when it comes to helping local veterans. Hutto is in the process of creating a new nonprofit organization for 

veterans by veterans, dedicated to helping those in need. He plans to call it Veterans Helping Veterans.

Veterans Helping Veterans will be set up similarly to a Go Fund Me page. Instead of how certain services require a monthly payment, VHV just asks for donations when it’s possible. If those who are helped pay back the funds, they go directly back into a designated bank account to help someone else. A committee will verify each claim and keep others aware.

“If they could give a little money, the veterans should know where it’s going,” Hutto pointed out.

It all started with a Butler veteran. Hutto explained that this veteran is in an electric wheelchair, and the VA was sent to install a ramp at his home. The funding fell through and, although the veteran was approved for social security, his first check would not arrive for 45 more days. Hutto contacted the current local resources available, the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), but only received an accumulative $400. The new VA Clinic is set to open on August 31.

“Johnson County just doesn’t have the money to help,” Hutto explained.“Veterans bring in $11 million through disability. Hearing that veterans are bringing in that much money might help people start supporting them.”

Hutto’s idea could help the community. Several local businesses have non-advertised veteran discounts. Hutto hopes to get the word out so veterans shop locally and, by proxy, put more money into the local economy. He encourages veterans to ask about discounts.

“Veterans will support merchants, and merchants will support veterans,” Hutto explained.

Currently, Hutto is having issues with the legal aspects connected to starting a nonprofit. He is reaching out to locals with knowledge of nonprofits and the law, including Community Center and Cancer Support Group Chairman Flo Bellamy and County Lawyer and veteran Perry Stout. Anyone interested in supporting this cause or in need of more information can contact Johnson County Veteran Service Officer Ralph Hutto either at home at (423) 727-5370 or at his office at (423) 727-7929.