After 7 years of service, Butch Elzey and wife Linda plan to retire the non-profit organization they built together, the Delaware Community Appreciation Group (DCAG). Although Butch still has a passion for helping the men and women that have served in the United States military, Mr. Elzey has been experiencing heart problems that he says is beginning to get in the way of his service. In a letter to supporters last week he explained that “the stress of all of this is starting it’s toll on me so I feel it’s time to stop and folks this is the hardest email I have ever had to write.” He goes on to state that his doctor has diagnosed him with Atrial Fibrillation which he has started to take medicine for.
“I love what we have been able to do for local veterans but I need to focus on my health,” stated Elzey. “I have a wonderful wife and I need to be fair to her.” Getting engaged at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Linda and Butch have been married for two years.
The Delaware Community Appreciation Group to date has raised over $200,000 for local veterans and their families in the last 5 years. The involvement of Butch and Linda Elzey goes beyond the organization though as Butch has counseled over 100 veterans, from his home state of Delaware to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC) located in Washington, D.C. With no military background himself, Elzey began helping veterans when he became fired up about what one United States Senator from Nevada said about the war in Iraq on national television seven years ago. That Senator was Harry Reid as he declared that the Iraq “war is lost.” Later that morning when Elzey saw four Army members in the local Wawa, he decided to buy them all lunch to show his support. From there the outreach and support of local veterans became Elzey’s main priority, many times leaving his two businesses on the back burner.
“It has been so rewarding, being able to be a part of these kids recovery process as they return from serving our country,” commented Elzey. “Many times they have no clue what they are returning to and that can be difficult.”
This past holiday alone, DCAG helped 12 veterans by securing money for food and supplies, electric bills and transportation to help veteran families get back on their feet. In October veteran Mike Harris received quite a shock when DCAG founder Butch Elzey presented Mike with a vehicle to help him get to and from work and college as he continued to work towards his mission to earn a degree and own a house. Mike, who served his country in the United States Army as a young man, had been without a vehicle for six years. In all DCAG has given a total of five vehicles to local veterans.
Looking back at his years of service to the veteran community, Elzey commends United States Senator Thomas Carper and his staff for being a continued partner in the commitment to serving U.S. veterans. Elzey recalls that after calling the Senator’s office about a family at Walter Reed, Carper was there within three days and took care of the families concerns.
“He is a stand up guy, I’ll never forget it,” commented Elzey. “That family was going through living hell and Senator Carper really stepped up and saved that family.”
Looking to the future Butch would like to continue, in some form, his outreach to the veteran community. In fact, he stated that he would give up his businesses if given the opportunity by another agency to serve veterans full-time.
“They are deserving and to be honest veterans do not get a fair shake when they return,” commented Butch. “As a country we need to let them know that we support them and their future.”