All of us at 101.5 KNUE are proud to be part of East Texas, and we are especially proud to live in a place where we hold our military and first responders in such high regard.

KNUE + Patterson UTI are proud to announce this week’s “Hometown Hero,” Meshell Horton of the U.S. Army and National Guard.

Ms. Horton, of Longview, was nominated by Cheryl Williams, who has quite the amazing story to tell about Meshell's time during and after the military. She touches on her bravery, her struggles when she returned home and how she still fights for the rights of veterans today. Here's what Cheryl had to say about Meshell:

Life has been full of challenges for eleven-year Army veteran Meshell Horton. After a childhood filled with adversities, Meshell enlisted in the U.S. Army with the Army National Guard shortly after turning 18 because she felt duty and honor bound to do whatever it took to protect America. She underwent two tours in Iraq with the realization that she might have to pay the ultimate sacrifice thousands of miles away from home.

 

During her tours serving in Iraq, Meshell endured weather that felt like standing in front of a giant hair dryer blowing sand, dust, and hot wind, long days and nights, fear about her own safety and the safety of her fellow soldiers, and worry about family and friends back home. The other events that happened there are things she still is not comfortable to speak of or about. These memories are of incidents that haunt her; she feels more at ease now, yet she is scared and still too insecure to talk about them.

 

Meshell returned from Iraq in 2009 but did not seek help for her mood swings and feeling like she was in her “own little world” until 2010 when she was finally diagnosed with PTSD. Today she advocates for other veterans to receive unconventional but effective therapies for Post-Traumatic Stress and other disorders/injuries. In January 2011, while receiving help for her own PTSD, Meshell was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She receives only 80 percent disability even though she has applied for an increase hoping for 100% disability compensation from the Veteran's Administration. Her mother lives with her to help because Meshell’s disability check barely covers her finances, i.e. Mortgage, insurance, utilities, and the several other bills that come up in any single individuals’ life that have to be paid for.

 

Horton is in the process of being medically chaptered, or retired, from the military. Until then, she remains on orders with the Army National Guard. Meshell says that many veterans will not ask for help because they are afraid of being judged by some of the same people who have never been where they are; they don’t want to be labeled as “damaged goods,” so Meshell wants to be their voice. She works at a Veteran Resource Center to help displaced veterans find employment and housing, but Meshell wants more.

 

Her dream is to help start a non-profit organization which can buy a property to be made available free of charge to homeless veterans, an ever-increasing segment of the homeless population in East Texas where she lives. Meshell feels that it is a shame for Americans to turn their backs on those who defended our country’s freedom for everyone. “They were willing to pay the ultimate price; it is time we return the favor.”

 

Though her physical conditions would sideline many individuals, Meshell never gives up. She works through her pain, her fatigue, and the side effects of her medications to attend college, work at her places of employment, and attend monthly drills for her National Guard unit. She is a loving daughter, sister, and friend to many throughout the world, and she is strong in her faith as well. She is a true “shero” with big plans to keep helping her fellow veterans. She is the living definition of empathy: she understands and shares the experiences and emotions of others.

To show our appreciation for Meshell's dedication and service to her country and community, she will receive a plaque courtesy of Congratulations Awards in Jacksonvillle, They specialize in awards, engraving, trophies, plaques, gifts and more. She also will also receive a gift pack from Edible Arrangements.