Speaking Service: Paul Olson

Paul Olson

Paul Olson

Age: 45

Occupation: Salesman at Stanley Ford

Service: 23 years

Branch: Army

“I’ve been in Afghanistan six times and Iraq five times.

“I was in the Army for 23 years. Got blown up twice and got shot once. It’s funny that I can laugh about that now … because I couldn’t laugh about it a while back.

“I graduated high school in 1984 and joined right out of high school and my tour was actually in ‘Operation Just Cause’ in Panama, the first conflict we had in a long, long time.

“I was stationed most of the time on the east coast either at Fort Bragg or Fort Stewart or Fort Benning. I did a tour up here, which is the reason I am back.

“I got medically retired after I got blown up this last time late in 2007. I spent a year and a half, including six months at Walter Reed, learning how to walk again.

“When I got done with all that, they told me, ‘Hey, that’s your third time, you’re done.’

“You are not allowed to work if you have 100 percent disability through the VA, so I had them lower it down to 90 percent so I could still be able to work. I got kind of bored being retired.

“I love our VA system. I remember being a kid and seeing all the problems my Dad was having with the injuries he had from Vietnam and comparing that to now ... it’s the difference between night and day.

“The biggest thing (Veterans Day) means to me is a way the country, besides Independence Day and all those, can show their respect to the people that give them their freedom.

“I am very proud of being a veteran and I love it when people compliment me and thank me on it because I get that everyday when I talk to customers who don’t know who I am.

“I also like to look at it as the people who came before me, like my father who is a Vietnam veteran, my grandfather was back in World War II. If it wasn’t for those guys I would have never gotten the chance to do what I did.

“It’s not just for the present day veterans, it is for the ones in the past too.

“I have already sent a bunch of, uh, tokens of my appreciation to my fellow fallen soldiers that I know up in Arlington (National Cemetery) that will be placed on their graves on Nov. 11.

“I’ve got a lot of friends I have had pass away from things like the injuries that I took. I just happened to survive. I have gone out there many times to go to funerals and pay my respects in person. I wish I could be up there this week.

“I love going and talking to those (older veterans) because it is so nice to sit there and hear their stories and some of the stuff from back in their days and compare them to the stories I have myself.

“I love them to death.”

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