Appleton, Wis. (WFRV) – “Once I got drafted (I said), ‘I will make the best of things,’ and that’s what I did,” Jack Voight said.
Making the best of any situation is what Jack Voight has always done.
Voight has been on his own since he was just 15, when his family lost their Shiocton farm.
He put himself through college at UW Oshkosh, but fell just short of earning his broadcast degree when the papers came for Vietnam.
“I needed another semester to graduate but the draft got me because of the fact that I already had four years of schooling in, my deferment ran out and therefore I was drafted in August of ‘68.”
His deferment ran out, but his luck didn’t; Voight was drafted into the Army where he got to dive back into his passion for broadcast and communication in radio school.
“I was rather fortunate that I was one of four, out of 1000 guys in basic training to get radio school and so I really appreciated the fact that I was selected along with three other guys to go to Fort Knox at that time,” Voight said.
Voight served close to nine months with the 25th Infantry Division in CuChi Vietnam, where he was an FM Secured Radio Sergeant in charge of 16 men.
He was released early to finish his broadcast degree.
Throughout his time in Vietnam, and through his life today, Voight continues to value the power of communication and camaraderie.
“I enjoyed other people, but communicating is rather an art in itself. You have to listen, learn and then lead and not lead before you listen, that’s important,” Voight said.
For Voight, it all goes back to that need to communicate. It started as just an idea back in 2017, and now it’s turned into Vets and Friends in Appleton, a coffee house where veterans can do just that; Communicate.
“They create their own little network and they socialize, it really helps them become more of themselves as opposed to being isolated in the world,” said Voight. “Just sitting down at a meal and listening to their story and enjoying each other’s company,” he said.
For Voight, seeing those transitions amongst his fellow veterans is all that he needs to keep paying it forward.
“That slice of my life is somewhat sacred in a way yet is also the motivating factor in what I’ve done in the past number of years in my lifetime. Because when I left Vietnam and kissed the ground I said I am going to help out people,” Voight said.
“So I’ve been rather fortunate, really fortunate to be where I am today and I’m going to give back, that’s my intent and it’s happened that way.”