Vietnam-era veteran Joe Ward, 60, doesn’t have a working air-conditioner in his modest Hinesville home. Instead, Ward — who is unemployed and recently was hospitalized for kidney disease — must rely on relief from five fans, one of which was just delivered to him by fellow Vietnam veterans.
"There are a lot of people in worse shape than I am," Ward said. "At least I’ve got a place that’s mine."
Ward admits it’s hard to sleep in the sweltering heat and humidity. He said his house doesn’t cool down until around 11:30 p.m. and he can’t get any rest until after midnight.
Ward said he never uses the stove or oven, just the microwave and toaster, because smaller appliances put out less heat.
The 18-year Army veteran retired in 1994 and worked as a calibration technician until 2009, when the company he worked for at Warner Robins Air Force Base lost its military contract.
"As long as I could work, I was working," Ward said.
He had rented out his home in Hinesville for two years and returned to find it in disrepair. The aging veteran said that when he’s feeling better, he tries to work on some home projects. But, he admits it’s a slow process.
Ward also lost his job around the time he was diagnosed with multiple health issues, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, he said.
Still, Ward doesn’t appear to wallow in self-pity and said he’s proud of his family’s military service.
"All three of my uncles served," he said. Ward also has a son, Warrant Officer Brian Ward, who currently is deployed to Afghanistan. He is assigned to a Special Forces unit, Ward said. His son is due to redeploy in January 2012.
Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 789 members raised funds to buy 25 box fans to help keep senior Vietnam veterans, like Ward, or their surviving family members cool in the current unbearably hot summer temperatures.
VVA president Chad Chaffee, along with VVA members Paul Spence and Kenneth Clark, brought Ward a fan Wednesday. Spence said the chapter has a list of people who need fans and added that VVA will work with other local groups to help get the fans to those who need them most.
Chaffee said the fans cost about $15 each and credits Walmart for allowing VVA members to accept donations outside of the supercenter in Hinesville.
For more information, call VVA at 369-5378.