Vietnam War Veteran Passionate About Serving His CommunityVietnam War veteran Hansel Keene was so moved by the Marine Corps League Honor Guard, a few years ago, that he decided to join up. Now he is one of Livingston Countys more active veteran volunteers.
Due to his passion and honor, the Livingston County Veterans Council recently named Keene the Veteran of the Year.
I had never joined any groups, for decades after serving one tour in Vietnam and part of another, Keene said. However, after attending a funeral that featured the Marine Corps League Honor Guard and experiencing a Memorial Day flag-raising, he was moved to join right there on the spot.
Keene, a member of the American Legion Devereaux Post 141 in Howell Township, has now attended hundreds of funerals for men and women who have served in the armed forces. He loves being in the Marine Corps League Honor Guard, doing things like participating in rifle salutes, presenting the American flag to family members and sometimes acting as a pallbearer during the funerals of fallen warriors.
Since joining in 2011, he has participated in more than 400 funerals around Livingston County, the Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly and beyond, as well as parades and other events.
At that fateful Memorial Day flag-raising event, Keene said he felt like I could fly.
I had been away from it for a long time, but he realized that this is part of who I am, he said. I felt a direct connection to some of my brothers.
Among his many accomplishments, Keene is now a board member on the Livingston County Veterans Affairs Committee, which oversees veterans services in the county. The Livingston County Board of Commissioners appointed him to the post at the beginning of the year.
The committee oversees the indigent fund, which helps our soldiers and sailors, he said.
Help comes in many different forms. Some examples of which Keene is particularly proud include the funds that helped out a veteran whose furnace went out over the winter, replaced a roof, repaired a truck, bought clothing and paid bills.
He is trying to develop temporary housing for homeless veterans.
Keene, who is retired from General Motors, serves his community in many different ways.
Last year, Keene created a Marine Corps League scholarship fund. He said $2,800 would be given out this year to veterans children from all five Livingston County public school districts.
His list of accomplishments goes on. Keene speaks about patriotism at schools and events, visits veterans in the hospital to play bingo and deliver library books, plans fundraisers, and helps with the Marine Corps Ball. He was instrumental in getting a Marine Corps League float built for the Fantasy of Lights Parade in Howell and helped plan the dedication ceremony for the Veterans Memorial at the historic Livignston County Courthouse on Grand River Avenue in the city.
Im very proud of our vets here in Livingston County, Keene said.
Keep reading Livingston Daily for an upcoming story about Joan Beaudoin, Livingston Countys Auxiliary Person of the Year.
Contact Livingston Daily county and townships reporter Jennifer Eberbach at 517-548-7148 or at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @JenTheWriter.
Tags: Veterans News