RICHMOND, Va. -- Ronny Williams needed help. The veteran was medically discharged after he served in the Navy for four years in the 1970’s, but he said he did not get the benefits he deserved -- until he walked through an Open Door.
"I was scared. I was in bad shape," Williams, 60, said.
Linwood Alford has dedicated his life to helping fellow men and women who wore the uniform.
"They come in gloomy. But when they come back they be lit like a light bulb," Alford said. "If Open Door could touch every veteran, I would love to."
Seven years ago, Linwood, a Gulf War Veteran who served eight years in the military, founded Open Door Resource Center in Richmond. It is a a non-profit that serves those who served.
"This is my passion. I see a lot of veterans going through a lot of things," Alford said. "Not knowing how to secure the benefits. Not knowing where to go for the benefits. Not knowing how to maneuver through the VA system."
Linwood and his staff steers veterans like Ronny Williams through bureaucratic red tape at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Linwood said he helps veterans across the country from Hawaii to Virginia.
"In order for me to help and change a veteran’s life that is my purpose and that is my reward," Alford said.
Ronny Williams was one of Linwood’s first clients. His helping hand came just in time. Ronny needed a liver transplant and with Linwood’s assistance Ronny was able secure a liver, medical care and financial assistance.
"I probably wouldn’t have got what I got. I might not have lived," Williams said.
"It is exciting to see how he has a new life. And we were able to assist him to get that new life," Alford said.
Each veteran is special to Linwood, but he said he reserved a special place in his heart for Ronny.
Ronny asked how do you repay someone for helping save their life. Linwood, he said, is not just a dear friend, but an angel too.
"It is a big friendship," Williams said. "I respect the man as a person. He is a professional. I’m real glad he is a friend of mine. Because he truly is."
"We’re going to do just as our name says…Open Door Resource Center," Alford said. "We’re going to give them the help they need and any way we can help them."
Greg McQuade and CBS 6 News are featuring local heroes in a weekly “Heroes Among Us” segment. Watch Greg’s reports Thursdays on CBS News at 6 or here on WTVR.com. If you would like to nominate someone to be featured on “Heroes Among Us,” click here to email firstname.lastname@example.org.