While Candy Lincoln’s little brother was serving overseas in the Vietnam War, the letters and taped voice recordings he periodically sent home were treasured by Candy and her family members.
Her father, himself an Army veteran, kept each most recent letter tucked safely in his shirt pocket until the next one would arrive, sometimes months later.
“He grew up really fast,” Candy Lincoln said of her brother who, eventually, returned home safely.
“We were the lucky ones,” she added, explaining that many families were not so fortunate as to see their loved ones return safely.
Candy Lincoln and her husband, Scott Lincoln, also a Vietnam War veteran, recently handed down their business, Lincoln Computers, to their son and are now spending their retirement giving back to veterans and service members with hand-crafted gifts of gratitude.
Scott Lincoln crafts fine wooden pens by hand from a variety of woods, including holly and blackwood. The majority of the pens are engraved with military insignia; each branch of the military is represented within his collection.
Scott Lincoln said his wife bought him his first lathe a few years back, giving him the idea to build pens as Christmas gifts for friends and family. With practice, his hobby developed into an art form, and he estimates that, by now, he has produced hundreds of the pens, most of which he gives away to service men and women and fellow veterans as a token of appreciation.
Scott Lincoln said he sells a few of the writing utensils now and again and gives some to other pen turners for sale at auctions, but any profit gained from sales goes directly back into the business for purchase of materials.
At last month’s Veteran’s Day parade in Oak Harbor, the Lincolns handed out free pens to military personnel and veterans.
The couple also recently gifted one to a World War II Army veteran at an American Legion bazaar.
“He was overwhelmed,” said Scott Lincoln, recalling the elderly man’s surprised and appreciative reaction. “It was just great.”
Candy Lincoln sews quilts that she, too, gives away to veterans. She said she had heard about the Quilts of Valor Foundation, an organization that donates quilts to anonymous service members and veterans in order to provide comfort and healing, but decided instead to distribute hers to individuals she and her husband know.
“This way it’s a more personal connection for us,” she said, adding that there is “no shortage” of friends and acquaintances for whom to make the quilts.
Candy Lincoln said she’s lost track of how many quilts she’s produced thus far, although her husband estimated she’s made several dozen.
“It’s a win-win for us,” Scott Lincoln said. “We get to enjoy our craft and enjoy giving them away.”
“I’m a very big believer in taking care of our vets,” Candy Lincoln said. “There wouldn’t be an opportunity to give the quilts to veterans if they hadn’t done what they did.
“People don’t realize what they’ve done for us,” she added.
The Lincolns applauded the work of the Veterans Resource Center and said the organization has done a lot for veterans, everything from providing social events like bazaars and barbecues to offering haircuts and referrals to social and medical services.
“Most of our veterans ask for nothing and should be given everything,” Candy Lincoln said. “They are very proud. They won’t ask for anything.”
For the Lincolns, helping wherever possible has become an integral part of life.
“We’re always there,” Scott Lincoln said.
As for what community members could do to better serve veterans, Scott Lincoln said that lending a helping hand and a listening ear is essential.
“Listen to them and see what they have to say,” he said. “They did a lot for us.”