ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Giving back to the community is nothing new for Salem native Air Force veteran Andre Peery. 75-year-old Andre Peery served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War era from December 1967 through June 1974. He valued the experience of wearing the uniform and serving his country because it gave him so much more.

“Basically, I got an Associate’s degree in Electronic Technology and experience working in the field which is what employers want right now. They want their education and the experience so that is why I got started in the Air Force. So I am truly thankful for what I learned there,” said Peery.

Peery also got an education in human relations, which he is using to give back to the community in two big ways. First, Peery is an advocate of the Boys Scouts of America. He’s been a part of the organization for years, beginning as a Cub Scout in 1959.

“Scouting is the best thing that could ever happen to a young person. Because one of the big things that is changing was Boy Scouts back then it is scouting now and scouting includes boys and girls and families. We are a family scouting organization now,” said Peery.

The second area that is keeping Peery’s post-military life busy is helping out with several community gardens in northwest Roanoke.

“We want people to become aware that you can grow your own food and you can eat healthier food. If you grow your own food. So we started off that this was a vacant lot. Just a vacant lot. There was nothing here. Just grass and rocks and stuff like that and look what it has turned out to a be an orchard. We have 11 fruit trees over there so it has become something really wonderful,” said Peery.

Overall, when Peery looks at his life, post-military… is community service and giving back which is his motivation.

“But all of these organizations, it means a lot to me. Because I feel good that I am doing the work of these organizations. I feel good. I am not doing it to please somebody else or whatever. I am doing this to make me feel good and if it helps somebody else, hey, this is something that I love,” said Peery.

Peery recommends that everyone to get involved with a non-profit organization they are passionate about. He feels it is a rewarding experience when you can give back to your community.