9 Who Care: Kirt Sickels
By Nadia Crow, Reporter
WEST LIBERTY, Iowa - After serving our country, servicemen and women come home to an uncertain future. Some deal with severed limbs, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other issues that prevent them from having a normal life. West Liberty's Kirt Sickels is a man who strives to honor and help those veterans.
West Liberty volunteer firefighter Kirt Sickels captured cellphone video of a fire on January 21st when the shooting range just next door to his home went up in flames.
"You could hear it. It sounded like firecrackers going off," said nominator Mindy Sickels.
His daughter Mindy was there when he got the call. Never one to shy away from helping out the helpless, Kirt suited up and fought the flames.
"That's kind of a real excitement for me the pager goes off and my adrenaline flows and I'm like watch out," said nominee Kirt Sickels.
By night, a volunteer firefighter; but during the day, his true passion is working for veterans at the VA Hospital in Iowa City and at various events around Eastern Iowa.
Kirt Sickels and his daughter Mindy work to fill up care packages for veterans. Bags from his annual golf outing, the TEE Tournament in its 20th year for disabled veterans, the blind and the paraplegic who come out each year to play. It's one of the many ways Kirt dedicates his life to those who've served.
"It's engraved in him its part of who he is," said Mindy Sickels.
He works behind the scenes at Veterans Day services, memorial day parades, or other events. A veteran himself, Kirt works to protect those who protected our freedom.
"I don't think we can do enough for these gals and guys and its been my drive to figure out how we can do more," said Kirt Sickels.
And Kirt does more than his fair share for those with missing limbs and others with problems you can't see from the outside. He says they all share a longing to be a part of something that bonds them together.
"They havent been out of their homes in two and a half years havent gone anywhere and you give them an opportunity to have something that they belong to and then they flourish," said Kirt Sickels.
He's got a national award named after him and other signs his fellow veterans respect and appreciate him. But Kirt doesn't want this attention. He doesn't want the spotlight. He wants more people to do more for these guys. Veterans he calls the unsung heroes. But his daughter Mindy has an idol of her own.
"He's my living hero," said Mindy Sickels.