After decades serving in the military and more than half a dozen awards - including the Medal Of Honor - Donald "Doc" Ballard has a new mission - to protect his brothers and sisters in arms after they come home.

It was a hero's welcome for Ballard when he arrived at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport this month.

Fellow vets were among the group waiting to shake hands with the Medal Of Honor winner, who was in town to raise awareness about our service men and women who come back from war zones.

“I was wounded eight times, I killed six people. I can't be expected to come home and be normal, I’m not the same kid that left,” says Ballard.

Now in his 70's Ballard says he still battles with his demons. He earned the nickname “Doc” for his work as an enlisted medical specialist. Stories like his are told in a new booked called “Doc: Heroic Stories of Medics, Corpsman and Surgeons in Combat.”

Another enthusiastic crowd, including local dignitaries – including Nevada’s Attorney General Adam Laxalt, himself a veteran, and Honor Flight Nevada’s Jon Yuspa - greeted Mr. Ballard at Maccabee Arms in Reno, where he signed copies of the book and had a message to share. 

“I’m here to visit the VA Hospital to ensure the veterans get the care that they're entitled to and they get some resolve with their problems. I'm also here to educate the veteran - on he has to step up and be part of the solution, not part of the problem.”

His message of awareness is particularly poignant during a time when we are seeing an alarming increase in suicide among veterans “…even to the extent that we're losing more by suicide than we are by combat,” says Ballard.

“Doc” also believes vets need better care when it comes to identifying the problems faced when returning to civilian life. “So we have to go back to Congress, we have to ask, we have to appropriate more money for the veterans, hospitals. We have to do a better, job, no question... we're a long way from being acceptable.”

Ballard says the more the community is involved in supporting our vets, the easier it will be for our service men and women to get the help they need.

For information on services available in our area, click the links below -

http://www.veterans.nv.gov/

https://www.reno.va.gov/