HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - With Veteran's Day approaching and people nationwide celebrating so many men and women who have sacrificed their time, their families, their friends, their well-being, and some even their lives for America's freedom, there are several people who deserve immense recognition who lives in the Tennessee Valley.
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Joe Shiver is retired from the U.S. Army and Airforce where he served collectively for 22 years.
Shiver now serves as the lead on joining with CASA to build wheelchair ramps for the elderly and homebound in the Tennessee Valley.
Shiver was drafted in 1971 right out of high school and then decided to select his branch of service. He chose the Airforce and became a nuclear weapon technician. He served in the Airforce for nine years and then got talked into joining the Army 1 Officer Program as a weapon technician. He said he then got direct deployed as an army warrant officer, which is not common when moving from the Airforce to the Army.
He served as an army warrant officer the remainder of 13 years, and when the army got rid of nuclear weapons, he decided it was a good time to retire.
His proudest moment of service was knowing that what he did for a living as a nuclear weapon technician was helping to deter other countries from using their weapons against the U.S. He said he enjoyed working to make sure weapons were available for use but to help prevent them from needing to be used.
"Since they aren't used anymore, I guess all we did worked," he said.
Shiver said Veterans Day is a great way to showcase veterans to the community and honor those who serve.
"Veterans Day is a way to honor service members, which is one of the reasons why I wanted to take part in the Veterans Day Parade," he said. "It is very serious to us because we are veterans and we know what it means to be a veteran."
He believes every young person should serve, so that if nothing else, they can get a better appreciation for what it means to protect this country and not take it and our freedom for granted.
"I spent most of my military career overseas, and most of the people living where he served do not have privileges that we enjoy and a lot of young people just don't realize what it costs for them to be free and that they wouldn't be if it wasn't for our military and our way of life," said Shiver.
He said while he is glad there is no longer a draft, he thinks it wouldn't be a bad idea so more young people would serve and know what it's all about.
"A lot of my friends have kids in their teens and 20's who don't know what they want to do with their lives," he said. "I couldn't dream of doing anything else... the travel and experiences I had, I got to see how other people lived and ate.. and I think every young person should serve at least four years in the military."
Shiver moved from Seattle and said Huntsville treats veterans with so much respect. He said Seattle actually stopped doing their parade because of a lack of participation and because it wasn't cost-effective.
"I love Huntsville mainly for how they treat their veterans," he said. "We are treated and respected very well here. I couldn't imagine living anywhere else. I appreciate this city a whole bunch."
Shiver began helping consistently with building wheelchair ramps for veterans after a retiree appreciation event at Redstone Arsenal. His booth was next to the CASA booth and the woman working was the wheelchair ramp coordinator for CASA. She got him in touch with team leaders who trained many of his people.
He said they build at least one wheelchair ramp a month, if not more, or at least do something for CASA.
You can find out more about volunteering to help build wheelchair ramps for veterans here.
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