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Retired Marine’s tough love gets results for local veterans

His service extends beyond the armed forces

MARION COUNTY, Fla. – This week's "Getting Results Award Winner," is a no-nonsense Marine who cuts through red tape like a machete.

Hank Whittier started Veterans Helping Veterans in Marion county in 2002. The current building houses 12 different veterans organizations under one roof. It’s a renovated bowling alley used to get results for veterans of all ages.

Whittier said the Marine in him won’t let these veterans lose hope.

“They stood in harm’s way and I think they deserve a fair break, someone to look after them and that’s what this was about,” Whittier said.

Inside the building, a veteran can find a job, get a loan or get a meal. It’s all in one place.

“I said what we need is a one-stop place where veterans can get the help they need in one building,” Whittier said.

[GETTING RESULTS: Comfort, compassion and craft: Volunteer helps families during difficult times | Search for mentors motivates Getting Results Award winner]

Jinky Diaz helps veterans get home loans and said Whittier’s harsh demeanor is a form of his endearment. When you walk around Veterans Helping Veterans, people describe Whittier in similar ways.

“Some people think he’s tough. Its called tough love. That’s how you teach people,” Diaz said.

Whittier does not argue.

“Yeah, they’ll tell you that," he said. "I’m not gonna hold your hand and cry with you.”

Despite his gruff exterior, Whittier has proven to have a big heart and get results. He plans to get even more results soon by moving Veterans Helping Veterans into Georgia by the end of the year.


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