Army Veteran Receives Volunteer Award

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. –  We’d all like to be able to give a little bit of our time to a better cause, but a Sioux Falls man has nearly made volunteering into a job and one he loves.  Today, an Army veteran was honored for his more than 10,000 hours of volunteer service.

Steve Friman wanted to retire from the Army as a career United States military member, but in 1995 at the age of 30, he received a severe brain infection.  He was left with impaired speech and the right side of his body paralyzed.  Family members said he has never let it ruin the mood.

Friman’s sister, Wendy Madsen, said “He has a contagious smile  He is always, he is always so happy to interact with people.”

Friman started volunteering at the VA Medical Center in Sioux Falls in 2002 after receiving treatment and extensive therapy because of his brain surgery.  Now, 15 years later, Friman hasn’t missed a beat.

“The VA literally is his life, his reason for getting up every single day.  He’s ready probably 2 hours before the van ever picks him up everyday,” said Madsen.

Staff members say Friman is always on time and works 5 days a week, every week of the year.  He even has a nickname, “The Bread Man,” because everyday he puts bread slices and buns into individual bags and cleans equipment.  Whenever he’s gone, they say it’s a different type of atmosphere.

“When he’s on vacation, it is like Steve’s not here today.  It’s just, he has such a big smile and a big heart and so a lot of the times when he’s not here it just feels like somebody’s missing,” said the Chief of the VA Nutrition and Food Service, Alyssa McLellan.

Friman was recently diagnosed with stage IV cancer, but has refused to quit and has continued serving to this day, which staff members said means a lot to the VA.

“It’s nice to have veterans that come in and volunteer because not all of our employees are veterans.  So it kind of gives you a little bit more of a meaning to the job when you work along side a veteran too,” said Mclellan.

Friman also received an award today for volunteering around 650 hours last year alone.




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