Coming home from the Persian Gulf War, William Cheyne Worley went through the worst of experiences, ending finally in homelessness. Now he uses his experiences to help other veterans.
Overcoming challenges after returning to civilian life, Worley described his experiences to an audience Saturday, Nov. 8, at the annual Wyandotte County Veterans Day commemoration event.
Worley, a Desert Storm veteran, talked about the difficulties he experienced trying to re-enter civilian life.
Readjustments to family life, dealing with bureaucracy in receiving veterans’ services, and even homelessness were some of the situations he experienced, he said. Now he finds fulfillment in helping other veterans.
Currently an assistant to U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-3rd Dist., for veterans’ matters, he started as an assistant to U.S. Rep. Dennis Moore for veterans’ matters. Twelve years ago he became an unpaid intern there, followed by a paid position.
Worley praised U.S. military veterans on the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, which began in July 1914. Buddy poppies, a symbol of those who died in wars, originating in the Flanders battle in World War I, were distributed at the door.
Armistice Day, the earlier name for Veterans Day, Nov. 11, commemorated the armistice after the Meuse-Argonne offensive in 1918 in World War I, when there were more than 170,000 casualties. The battle was the turning point of the war. A total of more than 9 million soldiers from different nations died in World War I.
“Their sacrifice has earned the freedom and liberty we enjoy,” Worley said about all U.S. military veterans. “Today we honor their sacrifice for all they’ve done for the country.”
The Veterans Day event was held at the Salvation Army Harbor Light Village, 6723 State Ave., Kansas City, Kan.
Major Beverly Best, director of the Salvation Army Harbor Light Village, announced a grant program that includes supportive services for veterans and their families in Wyandotte County. It will link them to veterans benefits and housing.
“We deeply appreciate the way you served our country,” the event chair, Barbara Newby, told the veterans attending the event.
The program included music by the Piper High School Music in Motion group, a drill team presentation by the Washington High School Air Force Junior ROTC Armed Exhibition Drill Team, presentation of the colors by the VFW Post 6401, music by the Kansas City, Kan., Police Department Bagpipers, and refreshments.
Monetary donations were awarded to the Piper Music in Motion, Washington High School Air Force Junior ROTC and Salvation Army.
The public officials attending this event included State Sen. Pat Pettey, D-6th Dist., and Election Commissioner Bruce Newby.
The Veterans Day Commemoration was sponsored by the Kansas City, Kan., Women’s Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Salvation Army, Kansas City, Kan., Convention and Visitors Bureau, Kansas City, Kan., Public Library, VFW Post 6401 and Auxiliaries and Wyandotte County Museum.
A food bank distribution truck did not arrive Saturday at the CrossRoads Family Church, 8822 Parallel Parkway, as it has on two Saturdays a month for the past several months.
The truck, serving hundreds of needy persons, was not sent to the food distribution site at CrossRoads church after the Unified Government told the food bank that traffic from the food distribution site would be a safety hazard.
“We’re just turning people away,” said Janice Witt, a Civitan Club past president who is working with this mobile food truck program, at the Reola Grant Civitan Center. “There’s no food. It’s quite sad.”
She said a few persons, not many, came by today and dropped off groceries for the needy.
In a statement, a UG spokesman said it was a disruption to traffic flow. The spokesman said a permit was needed. Witt does not agree that it is a traffic disruption.
According to Witt, her program had already done everything that the local government officers had requested of it, including purchasing cones to funnel traffic, but recently, it was told it could not receive more food deliveries because of the UG contacting the food bank about it. She said the food distribution center had worked with authorities including the sheriff and some police officers. The food distribution program had previously placed traffic cones where officers told them to place them, Witt said.
Witt said about 2,100 persons a month were served by this program. Also at the church are an inside food pantry and a used clothing distribution room, which are run by appointment. She said she believes that some people do not like a food distribution site in that area because it doesn’t fit in with the image of a wealthy western Kansas City, Kan., that they would like to portray.
She said she and her husband, retired chiropractor Ron Witt, were paying for the costs of the food distribution program out of their own pockets, and the program also received donations toward it. The church was donating the site and the utilities, and many volunteers for the program are from the church.
Witt and a volunteer from the church said that only a few of the nearby neighbors are unhappy about the traffic, and most of them are positive about the food distribution site. They said that several of the neighbors come to the food distribution site to receive food, and several others come there to volunteer their services.
Witt, an outspoken critic of the local government when she ran for mayor in 2013, said there is now a petition to restore the food distribution site, asking people to contact UG officials and the food bank. Her website petition is at this site.
A UG statement issued by Edwin Birch, UG spokesman:
“The City has received complaints from residents about the voluminous amount of traffic surrounding their neighborhood due to the food pantry. Residents have complained about their driveways being blocked and consistent disruption in traffic flow. Most importantly, it is illegal and against federal law to obstruct or disrupt the flow of traffic without a permit and the appropriate signage. There is approximately 16,000 motorists that travel on Parallel Parkway a day.
“While we are in favor of providing food to those who are in need in our community, it’s important for this to be done in a location that’s less disruptive to traffic flow and safer for residents living close in proximity to the activity. Also another major factor to consider is the proximity to the hospital. Having traffic congestion near the hospital for emergency vehicles was an additional consideration we had to take into our analysis of this location. Once again, the intent of the congregation is admirable but we have to consider safety too.
“UG personnel has spoken to the parties involved with the food pantry and have offered suggestions on alternative locations. However, they have not responded favorably to these recommendations.
“The City has never issued or authorized a permit for traffic disruption in this location.”
Kathy Conwell, a spokeswoman for Providence Medical Center, which is located across the street from the church, said that the first time the food deliveries were made, in July, people went to the Providence parking lot to park and wait for the late food truck. Providence security personnel were concerned about exits being blocked at that time, but it was all worked out after that one time, she said, and she wasn’t aware of any current problems. Those receiving food started parking on a nearby side street after then.
“We really applaud their efforts,” she said about the church program to feed the hungry. She said she understands that the UG works hard to keep access open to the hospital. She hasn’t worked on Saturdays, so she hasn’t noticed if there have been any traffic problems getting to the hospital.
“They’re good people, I’m sure they’ll come up with a solution,” she said about the program to feed the hungry.