Bill Rutherford, left, helps veterans receive replacement medals for 
their military service. He is pictured with VFW Post 269 Commander 
Chris Adams.

    When the country was gripped by the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, Bill Rutherford was 18 and had just graduated from high school. With the military draft in place, he knew he had three options: wait to be drafted into the Army, enlist into the military or run off to Canada as a "draft dodger."

    "I never was a coward, so I enlisted into the United States Navy," 
Rutherford stated.
    During the winter of 1962-63, Rutherford served aboard the USS 
Bristol (DD-857), which was patrolling off the coast of Cuba, and 
earned two medals in the process.
    When he was honorably discharged from the Navy, Rutherford didn't 
get his medals, which he attributes to the personnel officer aboard 
the USS Bristol not taking time to request them. He thought he'd 
never receive them.
    When Rutherford retired to Monticello in 2005, he joined the 
Veterans of Foreign Wars in Somerset (Mill Springs Post 269) as well 
as the Disabled American Veterans in Monticello. In 2010, he became 
the VFW's Judge Advocate. Among his responsibilities was reviewing 
the applications of people wanting to join the VFW.
    "While reviewing one of those applications, I accidentally found out 
how to request ‘replacement medals,'" Rutherford recalled. "These 
medals are the same medals that were earned by the veteran while 
serving on active duty in a war zone."
    So 44 years after he was discharged, Rutherford finally received his 
National Defense Service Medal and Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal. 
He then got his father's medals. However, he wasn't done.
    "I knew that since I had not known how to get my medals, there are 
probably other veterans that would not know how to get their missing 
medals," Rutherford stated. "I believe that God put it in my heart to 
help those veterans and the next of kin of decease veterans."
    Inspired by Deuteronomy 15:10, Rutherford began a ministry of sorts 
to help veterans apply for their medals at no charge. The medals 
themselves are also free. To spread the word, he has posted community 
service announcements in various newspapers as well as visits 
churches within a five-county area of southeastern Kentucky.
    Rutherford, however, attends his own church at least once a month 
per his agreement with Pastor Dewey Burks of Fall Creek Baptist 
Church. His ministry is sponsored by VFW Post 269 and he also works 
directly with the Veterans Service Officer with Monticello's DAV.
    In addition to medals and discharge papers (DD-214), Rutherford also 
assists with finding shelter for homeless veterans, locating 
transportation to medical facilities, obtaining bronze grave markers, 
etc. In the nine years he's been doing so, Rutherford has helped 
veterans and families not only in this region but as far away as 
Ohio, Florida and Colorado.
    Any military veteran or family member of a deceased veteran may 
contact Rutherford by phone at 606-340-3142 or by mail at 20 Robin Lane, Monticello, KY 42633.

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