Brad Byrd In-Depth: Garry Hisel, Joel Matherly preview Veterans Day parade

This Saturday is when the nation honors the brave men and women who fought to protect our country. Evansville will be hosting its annual Four Freedoms Veterans Parade.

It will be along W. Franklin St. and runs from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. It's the Tri-State's largest parade to honor all veterans who have served our country.

Brad Byrd talks with Garry Misel and Joel Matherly about Saturday's Four Freedoms Veterans Parade. Hisel is the co-chairman for the parade. Matherly is an Iraq War veteran and assistant director of the Veteran, Military and Family Resource Center at the University of Southern Indiana.

Transcript of interview:

Brad Byrd: "And welcome to In-Depth. This weekend, America honors the men and women who fought to protect our rights and freedom and to keep us safe. Evansville will host its Annual Four Freedoms Veterans Parade on West Franklin Street.  I'm joined tonight by Garry Hisel, who is the co-chair for the parade, and Joel Matherly, an Iraq War veteran and the assistant director of the Veteran, Military And Family Resource Center at the University Of Southern Indiana. Garry, first, we talked a year ago at this table about something you and I have in common ... we did not serve in the military, but your father had an influence on your life in a major way."

Garry Hisel: "Absolutely. His service time in World War II just really led me to want to honor all veterans and everything. And a matter of fact, last year we finished a restoration on a 1954 jeep. It’s restored in his honor. It’s painted navy grey, it’s got a ship and the service numbers."

Brad Byrd: "I think we have a picture of that if we can punch that up by chance. And this was in the parade last year?"

Garry Hisel: "Yes. It was. That was the picture of the parade and yeah, whenever I have the honor, we put that in the jeep and we put it in parades and things. That’s the only way that i know that I can say thank you to him for my freedoms." 

Brad Byrd: "Joel, you served in Iraq."

Joel Matherly: "Yes, sir." 

Brad Byrd: "And you were there, I believe you told me, in the late ... the first 10 years of the millennium."

Joel Matherly: "Yes, sir. 2007-2008. We went with the 163rd out of Evansville for the troop search."

Brad Byrd: "And your role as this assistant director of veteran, military and family resources out at usi, what does that entail? What do you do there?"

Joel Matherly: "Well, we had to look at the needs of our soldiers that were returning home and going to school and pursuing their education and career goals. And what we found, there were four factors that really affected the veterans, and so we developed our pillars off of that and there are four of them. The first one is obviously education, that’s what USI stands for and does. It helps all of our students meet their career goals.  But job placement, you know we, students were graduating, but they were having a hard time finding jobs because they were still talking military. So we’ve partnered with a lot of area companies to hire veterans and then form veteran teams inside their organizations because we have a unique skill set and leadership qualities that we can bring to these organizations. We also realize that soldiers are returning home with disabilities that you won’t necessarily see, and those are in the form of behavioral health. And so, we've developed programs and worked with the VA and Area Resources to develop programs the help our service providers recognize the needs of veterans returning home. And then finally our fourth pillar is community outreach. And the parade is just one of the programs we like to work with in the community." 

Brad Byrd: "And there will be so many veterans there. This parade has, Garry, grown dramatically over the past few years." 

Garry Hisel: "It really has. This is the eighth year for it. We started out the first year with 39 entries. This year, we're around 110, and that's up from last year. I don't think we're through growing, and I hope not. That's what it's all about." 

Brad Byrd: "And being a veteran, Joel, there's almost like a bond between generations on this ... World War II veterans with Korean vets, Vietnam, the Gulf War, all the way to Iraq and Afghanistan. Now with you kind of being in the recent picture with this, if you watch the news, and you told me you don't watch it that much. There's a pretty good reason, and you're not alone, my friend. But just some of the events that are going on in that region of the world, what goes through your mind?" 

Joel Matherly: "Well, I'll tell you when you see images like that on the news, soldiers are trained to endured. Families don't volunteer. So when they see those images played out in the news, they see us. They see their loved one in that situation. So to be honest for me, my family tends to avoid news coverage surrounding that because it's a hidden reality. We know that deployment is always a possibility, but soldiers are trained. They can tell during train ups something's getting ready to happen, but we've also been conditioned to until you actually receive orders in hand everything is a training exercise. And we know not to get our families amp up at a could be." 

Brad Byrd: "And speaking about family, did your dad like talking much about what happened over there? Because I know especially World War II veterans, once you sit down and talk with them one on one, they often will open up. What about your father?" 

Garry Hisel: "He came in toward the end of World War II, so he didn't see any action. But some of it we talk about. Some of it we don't. These veterans, there are a lot of them that didn't receive welcome homes, and that's the important part of the parade is to give them that parade." 

Brad Byrd: "You'll see a lot of families out there. And one thing that has struck me especially in recent years, there are more and more observances for veterans which is a good thing. It's not just the Veterans Day sales at shopping areas or whatever. There are observances in the schools in different ways and also in the communities. There are several going on tomorrow on technically the federal observance and then on Saturday of course actual Veterans Day. What do you think about that?"

Garry Hisel: "I think it's great. We can never honor these guys and their families enough for what they given us. Our freedoms and what we enjoy come from that sacrifice." 

Brad Byrd: "And at the parade, you got two grand marshals this year." 

Garry Hisel "Yes, sir. Our first grand marshal is Lieutenant Governor Susanne Crouch as our first co-marshal. Our second is Russell Bud Lomax who Saturday morning before the parade, he's slated to receive the French Legion of Honor." 

Brad Byrd: "That's the equivalant of our Medal of Honor." 

Garry Hisel: "Medal of Honor. Yes, sir. So, we're really excited to have them as our grand marshals this year." 

Brad Byrd: "Alright. Well, Joel, thank you so much for being here tonight. And Garry, continue success with this parade. And I know Chief Meteorologist Wayne Hart says maybe a little chilly out there, but no rain and probably the wind not be a factor. And hopefully, we'll get some sunshine. But hopefully it will be a great event like it always is and thank you very much for joining us." 

Garry Hisel and Joel Matherly: "Thank you very much." 

For the latest breaking news and stories from across the Tri-State, follow Eyewitness News on Facebook and Twitter.

(This story was originally published November 8, 2017)


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