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July 2021 Jefferson Award: Skip and Debbie Klabon

NEILLSVILLE, Wis. (WAOW) -- A Colby couple has found a way to volunteer together and help veterans heal.

For their efforts, Arthur "Skip" Klabon and his wife, Debbie, are receiving a Jefferson Award.

We met up with them at The Highground in Neillsville.

"It is so calming here for me and for other veterans," Skip Klabon said.

"This is the place where my husband actually healed," Debbie Klabon added.

Skip is a Vietnam War Veteran, who enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1964.

After serving his country, he came home in 1968.

"This country wasn't very welcoming at the airport," he said. "Protestors were throwing stuff at us. People would turn their backs on you."

"He really did not start to find any comfort or peace until he started coming out here in the late 1980s," Debbie said.

Skip leads tours, teaches classes and takes part in events like the Legacy Stone Ceremony.

"When laying legacy stones -- look at the people's eyes that are getting the stone -- people really care," he said.

Debbie, meanwhile, prefers to volunteer in the background serving up food for the volunteers.

Their efforts are appreciated by the park's donation director.

"They are the best people that you could you imagine," Kay Anason said. "This park couldn't be like it is without these volunteers.

The couple is grateful for the opportunity to volunteer together, with the mission of honoring the newest generation of veterans.

"Every one of those men and women who were killed in in Iraq and Afghanistan, so they are not forgotten," Debbie said.

And The Highground is the place for that.

"This is just such a healing place," Skip said.



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Melissa Langbehn

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