PARKERSBURG - In 1970, Richard Stanley had just graduated from college when he was drafted into the U.S. Army at the height of the Vietnam War.
Little did he know it would lead to a career helping fellow veterans.
"I was trained as an educator in college," he said. "I had already planned what I wanted to do with my life, then the military came into my life."
Photo by Jeffrey Saulton
Richard Stanley, left, receives a letter from Wood County Sheriff Jeff Sandy, presented by sheriff’s Lt. Bruce Riffle, right. Stanley was honored for his years of service to area veterans by a surprise reception at the Wellness and Counseling Center where he works with area veterans.
Stanley said after he was drafted he was sent to Seoul, South Korea, where he was trained as a social work/psychologist specialist.
"Therefore my whole life changed," he said.
On Thursday Stanley was honored by a surprise reception to thank him for his service to the center and to area veterans through his work with the Mid-Ohio Veterans Support Group
In 1993, Stanley began his work with veterans after a call from the Veterans Administration to the counseling center where he was working. That was the start of the support group.
They had a contract they wanted to award to a group that wanted to help veterans, he said. "I've been trained in groups and that was why they contacted us."
Stanley said the veterans group meets at the Counseling and Wellness Center in Parkersburg twice a week. He said there are between 12 and 15 men in the group, all veterans of the Vietnam War, although they have had veterans from Operation Iraqi Freedom and Afghanistan.
Stanley said their meeting area at the center was remodeled by group members.
"Dr. Leavitt said if we could fix it up, we could use it," he said. "It was a dungeon, it was kind of scary."
Stanley said he owed a lot to many people, his family and his church family at the Camden Avenue Church of Christ.
"There have been many nights I've had to work here late and I could not have done it without the understanding of my wife," he said. "I cannot forget the help I got from my family at church."
Priscilla Leavitt, founder and director of the Counseling and Wellness Center, said Stanley is always there for others.
"He's always there, goes the extra mile," she said. "He's also humble enough to say 'Dr. Leavitt I want to go over this case' or do so much for others."
Leavitt said Stanley also continues to learn, by attending continuing education sessions.
"He's always learning," she said. "He wants to learn from us (at the center), but he also learns from his clients."
John Danielski, a member of the support group, said the group wanted to show him how much they appreciate his years of service to them.
"He's been helping us veterans and their families," he said. "He's a veteran and that's why he can relate to what we're feeling. He not only has a group, he also gets together trips to something like the wall in Washington, D.C. so we can heal since most of us are Vietnam veterans."
During the surprise reception he was given a plaque from Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell. When the replica of the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial came to Parkersburg, Newell said, Stanley was there to help anyone at the memorial.
He also received a letter from Wood County Sheriff Jeff Sandy, presented by sheriff's Lt. Bruce Riffle. In his letter Sandy said the award recognizes the success many in the community have reached with Stanley's help.