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Veterans Week Rolls on in Branson

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BRANSON, Mo.–Missouri’s only living Medal of Honor recipient lost a lot after a home robbery.”When they hit me, they stole over $100,000 in cash, a some of my personal collectible items that Presidents had given me over the years,” said Colonel Don Ballard.Col. Don “Doc” Ballard operates a non-profit that helps pay for veterans’ funerals. Ballard served in the Vietnam war – his primary job being to load bodies of fallen soldiers on to helicopters. He says this left a void not knowing where his comrades were sent.After spending 35 years in military medicine, Ballard says it was never too late to switch gears going from the life industry to the death industry.”I went back to school at the age of 60 to become a licensed funeral director. There is no veteran in this building today that is entitled to funeral benefits,” says Ballard. “Most veterans are entitled to cemetery benefits… if you can figure out how to get from the deathbed to the cemetery. I bridge that because you have to go through a licensed funeral director to properly take care of the bodies.”Tuesday, the community rallied around him to help restore some of it back with an event at the Dutton Theater called “All Hands on Deck”.  However, that wasn’t the only ceremony in Branson to honor a veteran Tuesday.Cpl. John Porter, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps was honored with the “True American Hero Award”. This was the 20th presentation of the award. It is based on service in the military and the community and is voted on by the Military Officers Association.Col. John Hathcock presented the award to Porter at College of the Ozarks.”He was instrumental in establishing the Vietnams Veterans Chapter here in Branson,” said Hathcock.As …


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