Olsen-Stelzer Gives Wounded Veterans Custom Boots

WICHITA FALLS - Life can be hard for wounded veterans when they return to the States. But a local company raises money to provide as many wounded veterans with custom cowboy boots as possible.

Marine Veteran Private First Class Gerald Jennex III and his family stopped at the Olsen-Stelzer Cowboy Boot Shop on their way to Michigan, and his reaction, as you can image, was emotional to now have boots custom made for him while honoring the others that mean the most to him.

Tom Cartlidge says he does everything at the Olsen-Stelzer Boot Shop, from being a janitor to sales, but one of his most important jobs is sizing.

Cartlidge says he has sized the feet of dozens of wounded veterans, including Jennex, who got to see his custom boots for the first time.

Jennex says its an honor to have the 3rd Battalion, 1st US Marines logo on his boots.

"It's a blessing, because these guys are always with me through thick and thin," Jennex said. "And being able to honor them daily by putting these on and wearing them representing them, is exactly that, an honor."

Cartlidge travels all over the Nation to size the boots for  wounded veterans, to make sure their custom boots are exactly what they asked for.

He said its something he wants to do because he served in the Vietnam war and saw many of his friends fall in action.

"I was around people who were blown up by mines," said Cartlidge. "I was around people who were killed by mortar fire. I was around people who had been shot and nothing ever happened to me. And I came back and realized how fortunate I was. And I always thought, I wish I could figure out someway to do something special for those who did suffer the wounds of war."

And now he's doing just that.

But all of that wouldn't be possible without donations.

"That's why it's such an easy thing to raise money to do, because people love to honor those who have served us in such a way that they've lost a part of their body and have suffered a painful or difficult injury," Cartlidge said.

Cartlidge says he doesn't often get to see reactions like this when veterans first see their boots, because they usually are mailed to the vets, but Tuesday's reaction is one that will stay with him.

Cartlidge says many of the veterans he helps either have prosthetics or have to wear leg braces, and even with that, the boots will fit perfectly.

For more information on how you can donate to Wounded Warriors Boots, click here.

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