Proud of East Texas: Helen Smith

Proud of East Texas: Helen Smith
Helen Smith. (Source: KLTV)

LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) - Helen Smith is a regular at the VA outpatient clinic in Longview.

She's been greeting people, serving them coffee and listening to their stories, ever since the clinic opened, although her volunteer work with the veterans goes back even further.

Helen's husband, Gordon Smith, whom she married in 1946, was the inspiration for her volunteerism in the beginning.

Gordon had joined the Army Air Corps in 1939 when he was seventeen. He was in the Philippines when the Japanese captured the islands and spent three and a half years as a prisoner of war. When Gordon and Helen married, they both began volunteering together.

In fact, when Gordon died he had Helen promise to continue their work with veterans, and even age hasn't dimmed her enthusiasm.

"October 25, I'll be 92."

Helen arrives at the clinic before the doors even open and gets started on her daily schedule.

"When I come in the back door, I go into the break room and get the coffee ready."

Even the 30 cup coffee pot doesn't deter Helen.

"I have it ready when they unlock the doors for the veterans to come in."

Even though Helen spends a lot of time meeting and greeting veterans and their families, there's other work to be done.

"After I get the coffee pot ready I come back here."

After the patient's appointments lists are printed out, Helen goes to her office and begins calling.

"I'll sit here and call those patients to remind them of their appointments for the next day."

Helen spends three weeks working at the Longview VA Outpatient Clinic, and much of her other days working for homeless vets.

"See these three bags here, they're some of the things that DAR has sent to us to make, to put in the boxes for the homeless."

"To donate clothes, etc. for homeless veterans you can bring them right here to the clinic and ask for Miss Helen and she'll get them there."

"We put together 126 toiletry bags."

For 42 years Helen Smith has been a member of the American's Former Prisoners of War organization. She has been honored for her work in the congressional record and as volunteer of the year.

"The veterans just love to talk to you."

For over 72 years, Helen Smith has helped veterans with their various needs, a passion she equates with her other loves.

"I love my God, I love my family and I love my country and it's veterans who serve our country."

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