Local Veteran makes canes for others
By GARY EMMERT
For many disabled veterans today, finding a sense of purpose and keeping busy are often difficult to achieve.
Not so for Copperas Cove resident Jamie Willis, a former Cavalry scout who served in Desert Storm who now spends much of his time making canes for others and rescuing exotic birds.
“I have made close to 200, but really haven’t kept count,” said Willis while standing in his kitchen with his two dogs, one a three-legged German shepherd at his feet.
His plan is to make 200 canes in the year 2019, with the help of his youngest daughter Jaquelyn, a sophomore at Copperas Cove High School.
Despite an upcoming neck surgery looming for him in March, Willis still feels confident he can meet his goal.
Willis’ inspiration came from a Facebook page he saw called “Free Canes For Veterans” which is headed by a fellow veteran in Florida.
Willis wanted to do the same thing, with one exception: his canes would be for anyone who needed one.
“I have made canes for people all over the country, from California to Maine,” said Willis.
All he asks for in return is that they pay for shipping.
There is no special type of wood that is used to make each cane. Willis started his own Facebook page “Canes for Veterans Central Texas” asking for local support in obtaining lumber for his project.
“I was overwhelmed at the amount of support I received from the folks in Copperas Cove,” he said.
There is even a local landowner who reached out to donate cedar trees that he had on his property and he wishes to join Willis in the cane making process.
Willis was also able to make the rounds around his neighborhood and retrieve Christmas trees that had been left by the road.
If having a three-legged dog and the making canes didn’t make Willis interesting enough, he also rescues exotic birds. He had a bird on his shoulder and was feeding it a banana.
“I just want to show fellow veterans that we appreciate what they did for our country.”
Willis said he has even made two canes for World War II Veterans.
“I remember how much those VA-issued canes hurt my hand,” Willis said.
The smiling faces of those with canes on his Facebook page are evidence that his canes are making a difference.