Purple Heart recipients propped by special gift

Posted at 7:46 AM, Feb 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-01 07:46:52-05

A project in Vero Beach is helping prop-up veterans who were awarded the Purple Heart.

It's been going four years strong, and they're already getting ready for next year.

"Just talking about it makes me cry, it really does,” said a member of the Indian River County Wood Carvers Association.

Hand-made canes are being created for those that gave more on the battlefield then they ever got in return.

Purple Heart recipient Bill Albracht said, "Nobody ever made one of my medals specifically for me. This (cane) was made specifically for me."

Albracht was in the U.S. Army Special Forces during the Vietnam War and injured three times.

"Thank God I walked away from all three. Patched up in the field and continued. So many didn't (survive), lost a lot of guys," said Albracht.

The sculptors of the canes, the Indian River County Wood Carvers Association, etch them with precision.

They have an eagle head on top and all the awards won by the recipient as well. Dallas Jenkins of the Wood Carvers Association said giving his creation away can be emotional.

"You hand one of these canes over to one of the recipients and he tears up and says this is the best thing that's ever been done to him since he's been out of the service, it gets you,” said Jenkins.

The canes are presented to the Purple Heart recipients every year by the Wood Carvers Association.

This year’s ceremony was held at the Navy SEAL/UDT National Museum in Fort Pierce.