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Hometown Patriot: Gene Oliver - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Hometown Patriot: Gene Oliver

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Benton, La. -

A 71 year-old Vietnam War veteran is revved up for the ride of a lifetime. Despite a painful physical limitation, Gene Oliver of Grand Cane, is building a motorcycle that he'll take across the country with the goal of helping today's returning war vets suffering from post-traumatic stress.

"I'm anxious, I really am" says Gene Oliver.

Gene Oliver has nearly built a part Harley, part Honda, part Ford Ranger pickup and other parts.

He needs to take it apart, paint it, polish it, rebuild it and be ready to roll next summer to his home state of California. His goal along the way is to raise money and awareness for a treatment facility a semi-retired psychiatrist wants to build in Benton; a place where today's returning war vets can get help with their PTSD from volunteer mental health professionals, preachers or old war vets like Gene himself.

Gene says he does it because he's been there and he had to find out the hard way and hopefully he can make it easier for them.

After ten years in the Navy, Gene volunteered for Army duty on the battle lines in Vietnam.

"Combat was easy. You either kill or be killed. Coming home and trying to fit back in with normal society as they want to call it is next to impossible" says Gene. "Some people can come home and leave it over there, some people can't. The ones that can't are the ones you have to worry about and those are the ones I want to help."

Gene's building his bike despite a bad left hand but he made a brace that will let him ride.

"This allows me to pull the clutch lever using my arm muscle without the pain" says Gene.

He nearly cut his hand off with a circular saw while building his big work area. That was after he literally built his house using lots of parts from six other buildings he tore down. He says he just "kind of designed it as he went along."

A huge job that took five years to finish despite some naysayers.

"Don't tell me something can't be done. Tell me it's hard. I can relate to that. Anything can be done if a man wants to do it bad enough" says Gene.

Gene says he put about $33,000 into his house and that the property now appraises at $150,000.

We'll keep you posted on Gene's ride; hopefully next summer.

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