White is veteran of the month

Published 3:12 pm Friday, April 27, 2018

When Clanton native Barbara White enlisted in the military 44 years ago, she did not foresee a future serving fellow veterans fulltime.

But that is exactly what happened, and she would have it no other way.


A veteran with purpose

“I think what the Lord gave me — my purpose — is helping people,” White said. “It doesn’t matter if they’re not a vet, I just love helping people. And that’s what I do a lot of.”

A disabled veteran, White is the commander and service officer for the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Chapter 33, and the commander of the American Legion Post 343 in Clanton.

“I have a whole lot of positions,” she laughed. “I’m the first female commander in both organizations.”

Responding to veterans’ needs and recognizing veterans for their service is a key focus of DAV, White said.

Most of White’s responsibilities with DAV include filing veterans’ claims, starting their disability status for benefits and advocating for them when the VA denies their disability.

“We’ve helped quite a few of them,” she said.

Helping veterans “get their disability” is something White said she is happy to be able to do.

“When you go into the military … you don’t know what you’re getting in. Eighteen, 19 years old? You don’t know,” she said. “So, when you go in there and something happens to you, why not be compensated for it?”

She said many veterans’ lives have been positively impacted as a result of their disability status.

“Their lives now have really changed, and they’re able to get the benefits that they’re entitled to,” she said. “If they get 40 percent disability, they can send their kids to school.”

White’s service in the military prepared her for her work advocating for veterans.

“My army career was great, because I dealt with nothing but retirees and veterans — sort of what I’m doing now — because I was in the personnel side of the house,” White said.


A veteran of the U.S. Army

White’s service in the Army was an unexpected joy in her life.

“All my time in the military was [my] favorite!” White said. “Because it was just heaven.”

White joined the Women’s Army Corp in January 1974, just one year before it officially changed to the All-Volunteer Army.

“I joined the military because they were taking all the men, and I figured I wouldn’t find a husband,” she laughed. “So, I joined the military. I went in to get a husband … and I liked it so much that I stayed 20 years.”

White said that when she retired, she had a husband.

“It was Uncle Sam, and he has not divorced me yet!”

White spent much of her military service in beautiful places around the world.

“I traveled to Korea, I went to Alaska, Germany and Hawaii,” she said. “And I loved Alaska. It was beautiful. I had to get used to it being dark all the time, but Alaska was the place to be.”

When White returned to Clanton, she dedicated her life to serving fellow veterans — many of whom she grew up with and continues to work with today.

“I came back to serve my community,” she said.

Perhaps her greatest challenge was overcoming her disability.

“Believe it or not, when I retired, I barely could walk … I had to take shots to be able to stand up straight,” White said. “But I kept on forcing myself and forcing myself — the VA gave me canes, and I actually started exercising and tightening my muscles up and started doing a lot of stuff. And nobody can believe that now I just walk without a cane.”

White’s disability, military experience and her natural care for others allow her to provide her best support to Chilton County veterans—a life purpose she finds most rewarding.

“The greatest award is the assistance that I give to all my fellow veterans,” White said. “And that’s why I like this motto that we got here: Veterans helping veterans. As a vet, you’ve got to help another veteran through, because somebody helped you through.”

White’s office is located in the Chilton County Courthouse.
DAV Chapter 33 can be contacted at (205) 706-4219.