NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) – Serving our country isn’t just limited to those in the armed services.
For many, they may change uniforms, but their dedication lasts well beyond their oath of enlistment.
From foreign battlefields to a quiet retirement village in Norman, Oklahoma Veteran’s Center Administrator Michael Russell and Assistant Director of Nursing Taishia Tyler help lead the charge in taking care of those who came before them.
“You read about people but to actually meet them and to get to know them a little bit, it means a lot.”
“I’ve met men that stormed the beaches of Normandy. I met one in Sulphur that jumped behind enemy lines in the 101st Airborne.”
“The camaraderie that you had in the military that when you get out it goes away, and you feel kind of lost. Coming back here, it was almost like coming home. Like okay, I understand this, I feel like I’ve been here.”
“I don’t think there’s much difference at all between serving your country and being a nurse.”
“It’s knowing that I’m able to help those who lead before me.”
The veterans in Norman have a wide range of backgrounds and interests.
Bruce Schuerman is an Air Force vet who developed a love of photography as a pilot during Vietnam.
“As a kid, I always wanted to go fast… to go quick. To go to different places… to see different things.”
“You get to go to a lot of places that others don’t get to go to.”
Bruce’s inspiration for joining the Air Force was to follow in his father’s footsteps.
“I wanted to fly airplanes. My dad was in the Air Force. I wanted to follow in his footsteps.”
“He was in WWII. He few B-24’s in South Africa.”
I spent over an hour speaking with Bruce and learning about his passion for photography.
“I’m kind of a computer nerd and photography. I got into photography.”
“I had my house completely covered with photos. I’ve been to Australia, New Zealand, quite a few places in Europe.”
“Most of my photographs are light houses, that sort of thing.”
One of the more popular and (some would say) famous veterans is Allen Vann.
Allen is a 103-year-old Navy veteran who was on a submarine sailing to Pearl Harbor during the attack in 1941.
Allen was recently honored as a visiting patriot during the OU/Texas Tech football game.
“He just used to walk everywhere all the time, he’s slowed down a little bit as he aged.”
“You know you get grumpy. You’re sore, you’re stiff and you want to go home and then here comes Mr. Vann walking around.”
“Smile on his face every day. He is the epitome of what I want to be.”
“He always tells us I appreciate what you’re doing, thank you for what you’re doing. I shook his hand and said, ‘Thank you for your service, Mr. Vann.’ And he looked at me and he said, ‘You’re worth it.’ And that was just such an amazing thing and that really affected me.”
A sense of service, a patriotic duty and a love of country and those who served are the new calling for the staff in Norman.
They will continue to care for those who fought for us.
The Veterans Center in Norman currently has five veterans over 100-years-old.
They will soon have another when their next veteran turns 100 on Christmas Day.