When you're on a mission to find Hometown Heros in the Stateline area, you receive a lot of amazing letters about people changing lives or doing extraordinary things in our community. You get the privilege of honoring the brave men and women who have served our country as first responders or military members, and in some cases like today, you get reminded that saying "thanks for your service" is never enough.

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When I read the nomination letter from the wife of this week's Hometown Hero, Evaristo "Buddy" Gutierrez, I realized we never really acknowledge just how much Veterans sacrifice, both during their time of service and far beyond it. Veterans have survived and seen unspeakable situations, and many have spent the rest of their lives suffering from those experiences. Here is what Susan had to say about her amazing husband Buddy;

My hometown hero is a different type than what has been nominated for & chosen. Buddy was in the USMC from 1966 to 1970. He served 3 tours in Vietnam actually getting wounded on the 1st tour when the jeep he was riding in hit a mine. The person next to him was killed & others were wounded also. Because of his 3 tours over there, he is now suffering from many numerous medical problems. As you probably know, Agent Orange was sprayed over there by the US. He has diabetes, neuropathy, liver disease, kidney disease & the list continues to grow. He had kidney cancer & that was taken care of, the Dr's went in & did an ablation & as of now cancer free. Two weeks ago, he had surgery to see if he had bladder cancer. Luckily by the grace of God, he doesn't. He has to go to the VA in Madison every couple of months to get the fluid removed from around his lungs & stomach because of his kidney & liver disease they don't function properly. When they do that, the average amount of fluid removed is approx. 2 liters from around his lungs & approx. 6 from around his stomach. My husband is 73 years old & these issues are finally taking a toll on his body.

He was such a hard worker before all of these medical issues started popping up. He worked at Chrysler for 14 years, he quit there to work for the USPS for 30 years & also while there he umpired high school, a bit of college & boys baseball at the Boys Club & Roy Gayle. Also, he had his own income tax business called Gutierrez Income Tax Service. He was a man who WAS always on the go & now he can't do much. All of his issues are from the result of being in Vietnam. He was awarded the Purple Heart medal. He saved the life of a fellow marine, who they found each other (thanks to social media) after 45 years & they now keep in contact along with other marines they have found from the same time they served.

The VA has my husband's disability at 100% from being combat wounded.

Every day I see my husband's suffering & pain but yet he still is a great husband, father, grandpa, & friend. These guys are finally getting the recognition they deserve & they all should be considered hometown heroes.

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Buddy, although these two words pale in comparison to what you have gone through, thank you. Thank you for your service. Thank you for reminding us all just how much is sacrificed in service to our country. Please use the $100 Amazon gift card we are giving you from Gustafson's Furniture & Mattress on something special, just for YOU.

God Bless You, Buddy. Stay strong.

Do you know someone who should be next week's Hometown Hero? Please nominate them now, here.

Past Hometown Hero Award Winners

Tiny Illinois Town is in Guinness Book of World Records 12 Times

One very small Illinois town has built themselves into a giant across the globe and I'll bet you didn't even know. Neither did I. A whole lotta wow going on.