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Tom Weatherston: Caledonia Patch's Great Person of the Week

Balancing work for veterans with work for the Village

Tom Weatherston: Caledonia Patch's Great Person of the Week

Most people in know Tom Weatherston as a trustee for the village, but he says his most important work is the work he does on behalf of other veterans.

Weatherston served in the Air Force for four years as a combat engineer, working on construction projects in Vietnam including roads, ramparts and runways.

Now, he’s the VFW Post 10301 Service Officer, a liason who helps vets get their VA benefits. One of his biggest success stories was a Gulf War veteran who wasn’t getting all the services he deserved; Weatherston helped him get listed as 100 percent disabled, and then helped get his wife trained to take care of him, so she could be paid to do so.

“The proudest thing was when this guy called me and said, ‘My daughter’s graduating, and I bought her a new dress.’ And he was proud because he could afford to pay for that dress. It just broke my heart,” Weatherston said. “It’s very rewarding.”

As the former president of Racine Area Veterans Incorporated (RAVI), he helped numerous vets groups work together on parades, fundraisers, and putting flags on graves on Memorial Day. He’s currently on the Racine  Area Veterans Honor Guard, which provides military honors at funeral services. Weatherston also spearheaded a project to raise money for a memorial honoring Caledonia native Marine Lance Cpl. Daniel Wyatt at Crawford Park.

“We’re all kin to each other. When one of our brothers or sisters makes the ultimate sacrifice, it’s important to make sure that person is remembered,” he said.

He said one big challenge facing veterans’ groups these days is how to transform from old-fashioned bars where vets sit around and chew the fat to family-friendly places where younger veterans and their children feel welcome.

“We need to reach out to the thousands of younger veterans who are coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan. We need to make sure they know that [groups like the VFW] are not a bunch of old farts. We’re all brothers and we’re there to support each other,” he said.

TEACHING, SERVING OTHERS

Weatherston retired from Modine Manufacturing a few years ago, but made sure he had a “great” retirement job lined up -- as a Certified Motorcycle Safety Instructor. He teaches at Gateway and Kutter Harley-Davidson in Janesville and was named Wisconsin's Instructor of the Year in 2006.

“It’s a fantastic job,” he said. “You meet some of the nicest people,” he said.

Last year, he decided to run for the Caledonia Village Board because he felt he could help with balancing conservation and development. Now that he’s sitting behind the scenes, he’s amazed that Village leaders are able to provide residents with so many services at such a low tax rate.

“As taxpayers, we are getting a great deal,” he said.

Weatherston and his wife, April, have been married for more than 30 years. They have one son, Charles, who is serving in the Air Force (along with their new daughter-in-law).

Would you like to nominate a "Great Person" in Caledonia? Email melindatichelaar@gmail.com.

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