Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

June 17, 2013

Local service officer recognized for volunteerism


— By CHRIS AGEE



Lee Downs, who works as a service officer with Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2399, was recently honored with a statewide award.

“I was nomiated by a gentleman names Michael Southern,” Downs explained. “His family lives here in Mineral Wells.”

Southern’s father was one of the many veterans to whom Downs has provided assistance in securing military benefits.

“He wrote a beautiful letter,” Downs said. “I didn’t know he knew that much about me.”

Serving the needs of about 100 vets and widows each month, Downs said he feels he was recognized “because I put in so many hours helping veterans.”

Southern described Downs in his nomination letter as someone who “will help veterans and family members weed through the paperwork and bureaucracy of government in order to get the benefits and medical care deserved.”

He expressed gratitude for the help Downs provided his World War II veteran father, James Curtis Southern.

“Now he is in the process of assisting my mother in obtaining her veteran survivor benefits,” Southern wrote.

As the statewide winner of the Salute to Senior Service award, presented by Home Instead Senior Care, Downs is now entered in the national contest. Already, Downs has earned a $500 donation toward the charity of his choice.

“I’m donating it to the VFW Flag Account,” Downs said. “The national winner will get $5,000 for the charity of their choice.”

He said volunteering is his passion and he enjoys being able to help veterans understand the benefits they are due. Being recognized for that service means a lot, he added.

“I was impressed when I read that letter [Southern] wrote,” he said, “and doubly impressed so many people appreciate what I’m doing that they voted for me.”

For more information about the contest, visit salutetoseniorservice.com.