Joseph Wayne Peace has been doing something for 30 years that he takes matter of factly – helping veterans.
The 67-year-old Osgood man – he goes by Wayne – has helped hundreds of veterans to get their benefits and by just being there to talk with.
That is why he was one of 18 across Indiana to receive a Golden Hoosier Award during a May 30 ceremony at Fort Harrison State Park, Indianapolis.
The award was established in 2008 to recognize seniors for their lifetime of service to their communities. Sponsored by Indiana Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann in partnership with the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, the award is the highest honor bestowed on a senior in the state.
“I understand how (veterans) think,” Peace said. “And I’ve been through a lot of the stuff they’ve been through, and getting the guys to recognize it and the benefits that are available to help them get a job.”
He said some veterans are more accepting of the benefits than others.
“You take some of the guys … you lay a big stack of papers in front of them and tell them to fill them out. They will procrastinate and just won’t do it.” Problems are magnified by those who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
The county veterans services office “has some veterans they can’t really help so they send them to me. I’ll meet them anywhere … it could be one-to-one talk.”
Peace has worked with vets from around the United States, usually by e-mail. One vet who he served with calls every week, mainly to talk.
The Golden Hoosier was nominated for the award by Holley Rose of the Ripley County Health Department. The program noted, “Peace is a highly decorated Vietnam War veteran who has received two Combat Wounded Purple Heart awards while he served our country. Today, Joseph continues to give back to his community as he assists Ripley County veterans applying for health care benefits. For over 25 years, he has logged countless hours and miles as he travels to meet with veterans. His name is popular among his peers and he is known for his dedication, compassion and extensive knowledge of the Veterans Affairs system. Joseph Wayne Peace continues to impact his community as he strives to improve the lives of veterans and is an exceptional example of a selfless leader.”