Local American Legion commander dedicated to vets

Gar Williams is a humble man and does not readily give away clues to his years of service in the military or his advocacy for supporting local veterans.

"He takes his job as commander of the American Legion Post No. 44 seriously," Routt County Service Officer Michael Condie said. "He's a business man -- he's methodical on how he does things."

Williams began his military career in 1967 with hopes of flying helicopters. He ended up specializing in the area of military police, which he pursued until the end of his career in the military more than eight years later.

"I enjoyed the time in the military. Military law enforcement was a good field at the time," he said.

From 1970 to '73 Williams served in Germany.

"There was a lot of unrest in the military at that time," he said. "Most of the time I was working with the German police running an investigation."

Williams was then transferred to Denver to work as a provost marshal. In this position, Williams performed investigations on any military personnel involved in civilian law enforcement problems.

Williams said the work of a police officer has changed dramatically over the last several years.

He said many more young adults are being put through the court system instead of being disciplined by their parents.

"It's changed too much in the last 10 years," he said.

A few years after Williams completed his military service, he moved to Steamboat Springs and married his wife, Luann, two years later.

While in Steamboat, he volunteered for Search and Rescue and the North Routt Fire District.

Williams moved to Craig a year ago because of the increasing cost of living in Steamboat and wanted to live in the small-town community that Craig offered.

"Craig still has the spirit of a cooperative community. It's got a lot of the small-town benefit," he said.

The Williams' home is outside of Craig and includes land where alfalfa is grown. Williams said they did not have much of a crop last year but are hoping to have one this year.

Williams' passion now is making sure that local veterans are receiving the benefits they deserve.

He serves as the commander of the American Legion Post No. 44 and the adjutant for the VFW Post in Steamboat.

"Both posts are working together to provide support for the veterans," he said. "There's a lot of camaraderie -- everybody tries to work together on stuff."

He said the posts provide numerous services, including transportation for veterans to Veteran Assistance hospitals.

Williams said northwest Colorado is the only part of the state that does not have VA medical facilities available.

He said it is a top priority of the legion to provide local medical services for veterans. Williams said he has been working with the VA to enter into a contract with local doctors. He said many local doctors have expressed an interest but the VA has not come through with a deal yet.

"It's a big nut to crack," he said.

Condie said he feels the VA is considering a contract as more and more veterans move into the area.

Williams said his time is spent between working for the veterans of the community and managing his two businesses.

"Seems like there is always something to do," he said.

To reach Jamie Hallman call 871-1810 or e-mail hallmanjamie@hotmail.com

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