Caldwell ‘top of the list’ for disabled veterans

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By Mark Scohier, Staff writer

William Ferguson Caldwell died 19 years ago. He was a U.S. Army WWII veteran who fought at Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge. He was a father, and the husband of Dorothy Caldwell.
More than a decade before his death, according to his wife, he did a stint at Malcolm Randall VA Medical Center, in Gainesville.
“He was there for a while,” Caldwell said. “I said (to him), ‘When you get out of here, we’re gonna’ volunteer.”
That was 29 years ago, and Caldwell, 91, of Cross City, hasn’t stopped volunteering yet.
Recently, Caldwell was honored by the medical center for her service to veterans, which totals more than 27,000 hours.
“I’m top of the list,” she said, explaining that no other volunteer in the area has put in so much time with veterans. In total, she received about 20 awards throughout the years.
“It gives you a good feeling in the heart,” Caldwell said, adding that it also gives her a way to stay active.
Caldwell, a lifetime member of the Disabled American Veterans Auxillary and past commander of DAVA unit No. 63 in Cross City,  transferred her volunteer services to the veteran’s rehab center in Cross City about a year ago. She’s there seven hours a day for two days each week, helping veterans get around and playing Bingo with them.
“They kind of light up when they see me,” she said. “It’s sad. Nobody goes to see them. They look at you like family.”
Caldwell, who also serves as deputy DAVA representative for the state at the VA center, said people should make more of an effort to help veterans. She said she plans to do it “as long as God lets” her.