From the frontlines to the Capitol, the story of Bill Wooton

Veterans Voices

BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — Serving one’s country does not always mean going into combat.

For Bill Wooton, public service takes on many forms. Whether it was serving on the front lines, fighting the floodwaters, or taking the time in Charleston to fight for those he represented.

However for Wooton, he said it all comes down to making connections with people, something he learned during his time in the National Guard.

“The military did more for me I’m sure than I did for the military. It gave you an opportunity to become more organized, it brought about self-discipline. I think that is an ideal background for any young person,” said Wooton.

Wooton wore many hats throughout his life. A lawyer in Beckley, a delegate and state senator, and even little league coach to his grandchildren.

During his time in the National Guard, he helped to renovate numerous armories and recruitment centers around the state. He was also the creator and driving force behind a historic piece of legislation, introducing a bill to reimburse National Guard members for their college tuition costs.

“We were the first state to have the tuition assistance program and that was my idea and it has now been adopted by a host of other states and it is still a tremendous boon for young West Virginians,” said Wooton.

For Wooton, the culmination of his more than thirty-year career volunteering with the National Guard is not the bill, the National Guard facilities he helped renovate, or even retiring as a colonel, but rather it is the knowledge of how he positively impacted the lives of others.

“It’s nice to know I did something that at least made a difference in some people’s lives. You know, my wife had a plumber at our house. The young plumber who I didn’t recognize served with me when I was a captain, but you feel good when you realize you’ve touched someone,” said Wooton.

Currently, he holds a permanent seat as a Justice on the state Supreme Court of Appeals, a position he dreamed of holding since his days in law school.

Wooton said he owes his achievements in life and in his career to the lessons he learned in service.

“I have had everything I could have imagined or hoped for has happened to me and I attribute a big part of that to my experience in the military and of course my wife and family,” said Wooton.

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