Terry (middle left) and Sherry Lowells (middle) have a new ramp at their home thanks to VFW volunteers Tom Vanderhoof, Jesus Montes, Wes Larson, Tom Reeves and Eric Jones. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

Terry (middle left) and Sherry Lowells (middle) have a new ramp at their home thanks to VFW volunteers Tom Vanderhoof, Jesus Montes, Wes Larson, Tom Reeves and Eric Jones. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

Make no mistake, Terry Lowells greatly appreciated the new ramp.

But his favorite part was something that couldn’t be seen.

“One big thing is missing: the red tape,” Terry said with a big smile.

Terry, who served with the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, had a third knee operation this week. As such, the steps at his house on Bever Drive were getting too hard to navigate.

Wife Sherry didn’t know where else to turn, so last Saturday she called up Marion Post 661 Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) in Salem.

“I was asking if they knew of services that might be available,” Sherry said. “I just wanted information about where to go. I was expecting several months of waiting.”

It didn’t take that long. Not even close, actually.

The next day, Joe Ramp called some veterans together at the VFW and explained the need. On Monday, a group of veterans – Tom Reeves, Eric Jones, Jesus Montes, Tom Vanderhoof and Wes Larson –
equipped with tools and lumber showed up at the Lowells house.

“This is a community project from the post, part of Vets Helping Vets,” Vanderhoof said. “Joe rounded us all up. It needs to be done by the end of today. They found an infection in Terry’s knee, so he can’t get up and down the three steps in front of his home. This is an emergency project.”

Reeves was in charge of the design and project overall, fitting since he was a construction contractor before retiring.

Terry was humbled and appreciative of the help offered by his fellow veterans.

“It’s hard for me to ask for help,” he said while watching the ramp being built. “I’d always been athletic until I had knee problems. I was going to get a few friends to help, because I didn’t want to get the whole world involved. This kind of organization doing this is very heartwarming. They don’t even ask questions, they just come in to help. They are ready to help other veterans. I’m grateful for all of their help.”

Larson noted all of the veterans working on the project have some sort of disability.

Terry was pleasantly surprised to see the group show up at his door Monday morning.

“If you need help they’re there, with no red tape involved,” he said. “It just blows me away how quickly it went up. They just unrolled and started building.”