Touching Base: Spanaway veterans group installs ramp for disabled veteran

SPANAWAY, Wash.  -- We’re excited to launch a new series dedicated to our local service members and their families. 

We call it "Touching Base," and our goal is to highlight our local military, both on the job and in the community -- active duty, reserve and veteran. 

Our first "Touching Base" spotlights a group of veterans on a mission in Spanaway, and how they’re improving the quality of life for a man most of them barely know and couldn’t understand better.

“Being a veteran is probably one of the hardest jobs in the world,” says retired veteran Robert Bell.

 There are times in life when you have to hold your ground.

“It’s one of those things you never understand unless you are one,” says Bell.

And then there are times you have to dig deep.

"We’ve been working on this now for about six months, in order to get it to work,” says Bell.

This is back-breaking work for a man most of them barely know, but couldn’t relate to more.

“That’s what we’re here for, is to take care of the ones that can’t take care of themselves anymore,” says Lewis.

Volunteers from the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association are on a mission to install a ramp at the home of retired Sgt. Maj. Alan Cariveau.

“Three tours in Vietnam. He tried to go a fourth tour, but they told him no,” says Bell.

Bell credits his own military career to Alan.

“If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be retired. If it wasn’t for him, my daughter wouldn’t have gotten to go to college. If it wasn’t for him, my family wouldn’t have the things that they have right now.  So he was a big influence to me and my family,” says Bell.

And speaking of family, Alan’s wife, Doreen, is just grateful to see this kind of loyalty doesn’t fade with time.

“He’s going to be so surprised, yeah,” says Doreen.

Doreen says these days, her husband faces a different kind of battle, with his body.  On this particular day, she says he’s in the hospital and on a feeding tube.

“We know how hard it is for veterans, especially when they get around his age and they’re disabled and handicapped and they don’t have help,” says Bell.

No matter the branch, this is family, all the same.

“We are improving his quality of life.  We are giving back to him. He spent 50 years of his life giving to the military and giving to this country.  And now we are all back here, just giving back to him, what he gave to us,” says Bell.


And giving back.

Giving cause to pay it forward.

The supplies are from the local Home Depot. The store manager even showed up to help out.

“We donated pallets of bark, pallets of soil, pavers, really doing a lot of yard cleanup. We’re installing a ramp, so he has the ability to access the backyard,” says store manager Chad Cox.

“Oh he loves his backyard. He loves getting out here and playing putt putt, but because of his disabilities, he can’t get down the stairs.  And it started out as just a ramp, but man you can see what it is now. They’re doing the yard work. They trim the trees. They’re putting in lights.  It’s gotten way bigger than I thought it would be,” says Bell.

All is for a man most of them barely know.

“You have a mission. That’s what they teach you, is you have a mission and you have to get the mission done,” says Jay Lewis with the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association.

For more information on how you can get involved, click here and here