Bill Maness of Stephenville has been selected to receive the 2019 AARP Texas Andrus Award – the association’s most prestigious statewide volunteer award for community service.

Maness is a commander of a Disabled American Veterans chapter in North Texas who spends many hours helping fellow veterans understand and file claims for benefits from the Veterans Administration.

Some of those Maness assists are Vietnam War veterans from throughout Texas who were exposed during the war to Agent Orange and other herbicides. Some are younger and served near toxic burn pits in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. Many are experiencing cardiac problems, diabetes and lung diseases. To get extensive financial relief from the government, the veterans must tediously prove that their health problems today were caused by their military service. That’s why Maness and other volunteers with the DAV provide them research and form-filing help.

Thanks to the help provided by Maness, these veterans “can live with dignity and comfort in their own homes and feel empowered to be their own masters as they age,” Maness’ wife, Paula, wrote in a letter nominating her husband for the honor.

Each year, AARP Texas honors the legacy of AARP founder, Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, with an Andrus Award for Community Service. The award is a symbol of the power of individuals to make a difference in the lives of others, said AARP Texas Director Tina Tran.

“It is an honor to bestow the Andrus Award to Mr. Maness,” Tran said. “This award acts as a symbol to the public that we can all work together for positive social change. Throughout his distinguished military career and years of volunteer service, Mr. Maness has truly embodied the spirit of the award.

“On behalf of AARP Texas, I want to congratulate and thank Mr. Maness for all he has done to improve the lives of veterans in his community. AARP Texas has long valued volunteerism and the important contributions volunteers make to their communities, neighbors and the programs they serve.”

Maness, 74, served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War as an electrician on both diesel and nuclear submarines.