Randy Fulkerson served as a member of the United States Marine Corps from 1979-88 with the Military Police, as a SWAT team leader and as a scout/sniper.
Now he trains service dogs for veterans.
Fulkerson came from Eugene to take advantage of the Veteran Stand Down event at the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center on Wednesday and decided he would get a booth to display the dogs that he trains. At the same time, he took advantage of the free services and other items available at the event.
The annual Veterans Stand Down is designed to provide free services for disadvantaged veterans including dental, vision, hearing exams, clothing, haircuts, flu shots, legal aid and veterans benefit information. There was also information on mental health, veterinary services for their pets and counseling services.
“It’s amazing that this kind of service is available to us, especially when we’re disabled and we have a limited amount of funds,” Fulkerson said.
Fulkerson started Dogs of Valor to provide personal K-9 companions and has trained over 160 service dogs for veterans in four years.
“If you have multiple dogs it makes it a lot easier to get stuff done this way than it does to figure out if you’re going to be able to afford your own medicine or the dog’s medicine,” Fulkerson said.
In addition to free services offered by For The Love of Paws, others provided help to veterans in different ways.
David Ewart, of Roseburg, also a Vietnam War veteran, offered free profile sketches of veterans, taking only about 15 minutes to finish each drawing.
“I was the guy that did all the helicopter crashes and the B-52 crashes and I would do all the artwork for it and then submit it to all the generals to try to figure out what happened,” Ewart said. “I think I’m still alive because I got so much joy out of doing portraits. This is my 60th year of doing portraits.”
Bill Warnken, a Navy veteran who served from 1968-71 on an aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean, took advantage of Ewart’s art talent to get his portrait drawn. He was pleased to see the event for veterans and liked the picture that Ewart drew.
“I think it’s wonderful and he enjoys what he does. I like what he did,” Warnken said. “(The Stand Down) gives us a little more of a boost of morale for what we served,” Warnken said.
For those who simply wanted to have someone to talk with, Bikers For Christ members were there to listen.
“They come and tell us stories,” said Robert Quamme, of Sutherlin, a member of the bikers club. “(The Stand Down) is just a great thing for them to honor our veterans. We get to live and be free, and it’s because of the sacrifices they made.”
Cindy Houston, the Transition Patient Advocate for the Roseburg VA Health Care System, spent the day handing out brochures and talking to veterans about services that are available.
“It’s to make sure that they know about their benefits and what the state of Oregon and the VA have to offer them,” Houston said.
Houston said many veterans are not aware of what is available for service-connected veterans in Oregon. She said the state offers free park passes, free license plates, reduction in property taxes, hunting and fishing licenses.
“A lot of them don’t even know what they can get with VA Medical so we have information on that,” Houston said.