Military memorabilia helps Siouxland veterans open up, heal - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Military memorabilia helps Siouxland veterans open up, heal

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Every piece is a part of the military's past, but Evans' purpose for displaying the collection is threefold. Every piece is a part of the military's past, but Evans' purpose for displaying the collection is threefold.
CHEROKEE, Iowa (KTIV) - Veteran's Affairs Offices across the country help connect vets and their families to health, employment, and financial services, but the office in Cherokee County offers vets much more.  It's about veterans taking care of veterans and preserving the good and the bad history of the U.S. military.

Every nook and every cranny in the small corner office in Cherokee, Iowa is packed with stuff, but the posters, photos, statues and trinkets aren't just ordinary old objects.

"This stuff here really helps tell the story of the U.S. military and the United States of America, says Dana Evans, the Cherokee County Veterans Affairs Director.

Evans runs the county veteran's affairs office.  As a Navy vet himself, his collection of military memorabilia started small, with Vietnam figurines, and now it's grown.

"It's here there and everywhere and it keeps building," says Evans.

Many of the momentos come from Dana's personal collection.  The rest come from families of Siouxland soldiers.

"They come in and say, "no one in the family wants it, so would you take it?" I say, "please.  It would be an honor."  It's something that helps me and it helps them to know it's going to a good home," says Evans.

Medals, models, maps, match holders, caps, covers, hats, and helmets, Evans has a little bit of everything.

"I have all the items you could ever think about," says Evans.

Evans takes out a hat from the display case.  It's one from the Spanish American War.  He also has the photo of the Siouxland soldier who wore it.

From the necessities of war, to the necessities of life, he even has toilet paper from Vietnam.  One of the most unique items Evans has in the office is a Japanese hand grenade from the Aleutian Islands.  It was his father-in-law's and to get it back into the U.S., he had to make it into a lighter.  

Every piece is a part of the military's past, but Evans' purpose for displaying the collection is threefold.

"My veterans who come into the office feel very at home with this stuff," says Evans.  "You see something like that there and the guys just want to hold it."

Holding history, the vets to open up and Evans helps them heal.

"People tell me about their memories," says Evans.  "The good stuff, the bad stuff, but most of the time we remember the good stuff and that's what all this stuff is.  They look at the maps and say, "hey, I remember being there," or they look at the ships and say, "yeah, I was there."

It's the stories from the men and women who served during times of peace or war that keep the history alive.

"You hear these stories and you relate to them and you pass them on to other people," says Evans.  "That's what's important.  It's passing the history down to our kids and grand kids."

Dana's mini military museum preserves military history for generations to come.

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