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Veterans Continue Their Service to Others at Ozarks Medical Center, Part 7 of 9

Veterans Continue Their Service to Others at Ozarks Medical Center

Ozarks Medical Center (OMC) is a system of care encompassing a 114-bed acute care hospital, 8 primary care and 15 specialty clinics, along with complete rehabilitation and home care services. OMC is a not-for-profit medical referral center with over 1100 employees, serving an 8-county area in south central Missouri and north central Arkansas. OMC would like to recognize a few of our veterans that came forward to be interviewed. We appreciate all that they have done for our country and applaud all veterans for their service.

Part 7 of 9.

Noval Willbanks, Volunteer, OMC

Noval Willbanks may have missed his calling. But he seems to have found it now. It just took him several years and retirement to figure it out.

Willbanks, a native of Thayer, was drafted in the Army on October 11, 1966. Eighteen young men left Thayer on the same day, and they all came back after their service. Willbanks was stationed in NKP Thailand as a mail clerk. He recalls that he delivered a lot of “Dear John” letters. He says it was then he figured out that he was a good talker and politician. “The boys would read those letters from their girls at home, telling them they were breaking up with them. They’d get mad at me! I’d say, hey, I’m just the messenger here, just doing my job, delivering the mail,” Willbanks said. “I’d try to help them out and talk them through it.”

After being discharged from the Army, Willbanks took the Postal Exam. He was offered a job with the Post Office in St. Louis, but on the same day, was offered a job with the railroad. “The railroad job was in Thayer, so I took it.”

Willbanks retired from the railroad after 30 years of service. During that time, he also was the mayor of Thayer, served on the City Council of Thayer, as well as the Thayer School Board. Last year he decided to become a volunteer at OMC. “I wish I had started volunteering here earlier. I think I missed my calling. I enjoy working here more than anything else I have done my entire life. If I didn’t enjoy it so much, I wouldn’t drive 60 miles round trip to work at a job where I don’t get paid.” WIllbanks explained that there is just something about helping people. “It is very rewarding to see how people react when you help them.”

Willbanks has five children. BJ is a Navy Seal and a physician in the Navy. He is currently stationed in Baltrain. Brian works at Armstrong Flooring, Lisa is a Nurse Practitioner, Amy is a veterinarian assistant, and Brandon is a conductor on the railroad.

Volunteers at OMC do a variety of duties that allow the paid staff to continue helping others without interruption and allows for quicker service to those who are waiting.

Noval Willbanks, Army, 1968

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