Bill Hale is an interesting man, even though he would probably tell you that he’s not.
He could tell you stories of his youth attending Catholic boarding school, or the life lessons he learned from his grandparents while growing up on the Fort Berthold Reservation. He could also tell you about communing with nature, being an Army Infantryman, or an oil field roughneck. Hale could even tell you what it’s like busting broncs and riding bulls in rodeos.
But Hale, he would rather talk about helping Veterans. The 60-year-old Native American is a member of the Hidatsa and Mandan tribes, and serves as a Veterans Service Officer for the Three Affiliated Tribes – the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Sahnish also known as the MHA Nation in New Town, North Dakota.
If you haven’t noticed, Bill Hale isn’t exactly a one-job-at-a-time kind of guy. And his work for the MHA Nation is no different. In his current position, he does a lot of different things from driving Veterans to their doctor appointments to finding homeless Veterans a place to sleep. He’s even trying to build the tribe a new building to better serve their Veterans. That is when he’s not traveling the outlying and remote areas reaching out to older and new Veterans to inform them about the benefits and services available to them through the tribes, VSOs and VA.
But this story didn’t start about Hale, or the other many hats he wears. It began last month when Wounded Warriors Family Support, a Nebraska-based VSO, purchased a truck from a local Ford dealer and presented it to the MHA Nation.
“Native Americans provide the highest percentage of our soldiers, airmen, sailors and Marines than any other demographic group, yet they are underserved because of their isolation,” said retired U.S. Marine Corps Col. John Folsom , founder and president of Wounded Warriors Family Support. “This vehicle will help in providing adequate transportation for those who served.”
The vehicle purchase by Wounded Warriors Family Support is one of several programs the organization runs to support and improve the lives of Veterans across the country.
A presentation ceremony was held at Eide Ford in Bismark, North Dakota, where dealership’s general manager, Casey Neumann, presented the keys to MHA Nation Chairman of the Tribe Mark Fox to a brand new Ford F150 gifted by WWFS to the MHA Nation. It was a pretty big deal to all. Immediately following the ceremony, the keys were handed to – you guessed it – Bill.
As luck (or a carefully planned schedule) would have it, a fellow Veteran had a medical appointment earlier that day in Bismarck. Bill Hale hopped in the new truck and drove to the VA outpatient clinic located there to pick up the visually impaired Veteran and drive him roughly three hours back to his home. Just another day at the office for Hale.
“Having a way to transport Veterans is very important up here,” Hale said. “We have a large lake that separates many of the communities and you might have to drive 90 miles or more to get around to some of the outlying areas. We need to maintain the ability to get Veterans to where they need to go – especially for their medical needs. This truck is a blessing.”
What was evident in my conversation with Hale — while he was on the road by the way — was not the fact that he busted broncs in his youth or is the American Legion Commander of the Myron B. Johnson–Nathan J. Goodiron Post 271 in North Dakota, but it’s his passion for helping his fellow Veterans.
A passion you can feel by talking to him, although it’s not being said in his words, for his words are always about helping others.
That passion helps Hale succeed in helping his fellow Veterans as a part of the MHA Nation. It’s the same type of unspoken dedication that is reflected in many others, such as Folsom of the Wounded Warriors Family Support, and the thousands of others like them, who dedicate their lives to improving the lives of their fellow Veterans in any manner they can.
While you may not know Bill Hale, you probably have someone like him in your community – someone who gives a Vet a ride to the hospital, or goes around collecting clothes for the next homeless stand-down event. It’s the people who get things done, not necessarily because they are paid to, but because they want to and because caring for Veterans is the right thing to do.