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Don Vtipil, co-founder of Military Assistance Program, a non-profit group that helps veterans, surprised local veterans John Scadlock, above, and Dustin Bagwell, below, with $5,000 each Sunday during a fundraiser at Gros’ Marina near Stephensville as part of Road to 3rd Street Songwriters Festival. (The Daily Review/Zachary Fitzgerald)

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Two area veterans surprised with $5,000 each

Two local veterans who have faced trying times were surprised with $5,000 each Sunday during an event in conjunction with Road to 3rd Street Songwriters Festival.

Local veterans John Scadlock and Dustin Bagwell were each presented with the checks at Gros’ Marina on Four-Mile Bayou Road near Stephensville during a fundraiser as part of Road to 3rd Street Songwriters Festival.

Funds for the checks presented were raised through Military Assistance Program, which helps veterans around the country that served the nation honorably and had to deal with tough circumstances. All funds from Sunday’s event went to Military Assistance Program.

Scadlock, 49, of Gibson, served in the Air Force about 20 years as a logistics technician and 2½ years as a convoy commander in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was diagnosed with leukemia in 2014 after feeling weak while serving in Afghanistan. He went through chemotherapy and has been in remission for about a year.

Bagwell, 33, of Morgan City, who served in the Army and Louisiana National Guard, was wounded in Iraq after being hit by a improvised explosive device and has hearing loss as a result. He served a total of 14 years in the military, including two years in the National Guard. He was in Iraq from 2004-05 and 2009-10.

Retired Army Lt. Col. Don Vtipil, who’s from Virginia, helped create Military Assistance Program that has raised $3 million from food service companies to assist wounded veterans over the past few years. Vtipil is also president of Red Cloud Food Services based in Nashville.

D.aT. Sauce in Morgan City and Last Honky Tonk Music Series have played a big role in the program during the past two years, Vtipil said.

Vtipil asked Scadlock, who was wearing a shirt with the word “Veteran” to come up to the podium Sunday and speak about his service. That’s when Vtipil surprised him with the check.

Next, Vtipil called Bagwell up to the front. Bagwell had told Vtipil about Scadlock’s story. Bagwell runs Purple Heart Outdoors, a non-profit organization that brings disabled veterans hunting and fishing.

Vtipil then surprised Bagwell with a check, too.

Scadlock’s two cousins had called him and said they were going to take him fishing and then go listen to a band. He didn’t have any idea about the real reason they brought him there until Vtipil called him up on stage, he said.

Both men expressed gratitude for the cash awards.

Scadlock sees the work that veterans organizations do as vitally important and donates money himself to different organizations.

Bagwell plans to use the $5,000 to help fund Purple Heart Outdoors, and the money will help a lot of veterans, he said.

“Talk to your veterans out there,” Vtipil said. “They want to be part of life. We all want to be part of life. And there’s a lot of people that serve honorably and do great things so that we can be out here today.”

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