Veterans Helping Veterans (VHV) is an all-volunteer program funded by the local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 6073 and American Legion Post 30. VHV has been making mobility modifications to help veterans age safely in their homes since 2017. The week, VHV came together to replace rotten boards on the front and back deck of one of their own, United States Army Staff Sergeant Gayla Sue Mendez. The deck posed a safety hazard for her and her daughter, Jayda, both members of local VFW 6073 and AL 30.
SSG. Mendez honorably served 13 years in the U.S. Army as a 71L Administrative Specialist, receiving numerous awards, including the Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Commendation Medal (2nd), Army Commendation Medal (2nd), Army Achievement Medal (3rd), Army Good Conduct Medal (4th), Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon and the Overseas Medal. She attended the Noncommissioned Officer’s Professional Development course and received the Expert Marksmanship Badge with rifle bar (M-16). The Army takes pride when recognizing service members with awards, and it is obvious she has served with honor and distinguished achievement.
Gayla Sue was born and raised in Morgan County. Upon completion of basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina in 1990, she was assigned to the 8th U.S. Army, 595th Maintenance Company at K-16 Airbase in South Korea, a combat zone, and served as the Orderly Room Clerk for two years. Mendez recalls when the Gulf War began, all U.S. armed forces installations in Korea were called to high alert, and a stop-loss was enforced for several months.
In 1992, she transferred to Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in Mons, Belgium where she served on the international staff in the Intelligence Division and participated in allied intelligence operations in support of NATO’s military presence in the Yugoslav wars. She also earned a bachelor’s degree in management and history from the University of Maryland before transferring to Turkey in 1997 where she continued to serve in the Intelligence Division at Comland Southeast.
In 2000, she returned stateside and served on the Georgia State University ROTC Cadre before being selected to serve as a Travel Coordinator for the U.S. Army Forces (FORSCOM) Commanding General in 2002.
Upon completion of her active duty service, Gayla Sue served as a contractor and federal employee at the Center for Disease Control, FORSCOM G-6 and Environmental Protection Agency before she retired and moved back to Alabama. Now, she is an active member of the VFW Post and American Legion Post, serving as the Public Affairs Officer. She continues to use her dedication to the armed forces and military occupational skill to write articles that recognize the service of other local veterans and veteran-related activities. The veterans enjoy her attitude and willingness to pitch in on many projects. She serves as Secretary on the board for the Veterans Memorial Park and has recently volunteered to serve as a tour guide where she is very happy to be still serving in Jackson County.
Veterans Helping Veterans wants every veteran of the Armed Forces to know their military service is appreciated, and they are not forgotten. VHV wants every veteran to know the opportunity does exist where many continue serving and experiencing the camaraderie of military service, founded on loyalty and duty to our great nation through participation in the congressionally-chartered VFW and American Legion posts and Auxiliaries. VFW Fallen Comrades and American Legion have been serving Jackson County since 1946 and are located at 1616 Heroes Drive in Scottsboro. Learn more at vfw6073.org or call 256.259.6161.